The term "Internet users" includes subscribers who pay for Internet access (dial-up, leased line and fixed broadband) and people who have access without paying directly, either as a member of a household or from work, school, a public library or Internet café. 

Author: Gilly Wright
Project Coordinator: S.J. Yun

According to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) the world had three billion Internet users (40% of the world’s population) at the end of 2014, with two-thirds coming from the developing world.

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In developing countries, the number of Internet users will have doubled in 5 years, from 974 million in 2009 to 1.9 billion in 2014.

Internet user penetration has reached 40% globally, 78% in developed countries and 32% in developing countries. 2014 growth rates in developed countries remain relatively low, at 3.3% compared with 8.7% in developing countries.

Globally, there are 4 billion people not yet using the Internet and more than 90% of them are from the developing world, so this is the main growth area.

TYPE

2001

2005

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014*

Developed
29.4
50.9
67.1
70.5
73.1
75.7
78.3
World
8.0
15.8
29.4
32.5
35.5
37.9
40.4
Developing
2.8
7.8
21.2
24.3
27.4
29.9
32.4

In Africa, almost 20% of the population will be online by end 2014, up from 10% in 2010, while in the Americas, close to two out of three people will be using the Internet by the end 2014, the second highest penetration rate after Europe.

Europe’s Internet penetration will be reaching 75% (or three out of four people) by the end 2014, the highest worldwide.


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One third of the population in Asia-Pacific will be online by end 2014 and around 45% of the world’s Internet users will be from the Asia- Pacific region.

By end 2014, 44% of the world’s households will have Internet access at home. Close to one third (31%) of households in developing countries will be connected to the Internet, compared with 78% in developed countries.

2013/14 growth rates in the developing world will be more than three times as high as those in the developed world (12.5% growth compared with 4%). Household Internet access is approaching saturation levels in developed countries.

The number of households with Internet access in developing countries surpassed those in developed countries in 2013, and doubled between 2010 and 2014.

By end 2014, more than one out of two households in the CIS will be connected to the Internet. In Africa, only about one out of ten households will be connected to the Internet. However, household Internet access in Africa continues to grow at double-digit rates (at 18% in 2014, more than twice the growth of the world average).

According to recent research by The Boston Consulting Group easy access and use of the Internet can dramatically affect the growth of national economies, while a report, Lion’s Go Digital by McKinsey&Company estimates that Internet usage could add $300 billion a year to Africa’s GDP each year by 2025.

“The Internet is a catalyst for economic growth: in China, India, and Brazil, it has contributed more than 10% of total GDP growth over the past five years. Its impact in Africa to date has been much smaller, but is likely to accelerate in the coming decade — and could have a transformative effect the continent’s development,” says Johannesburg based McKinsey director and co-author of the report, Saf Yeboah-Amankwah.

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