human trafficking during COVID-19The United Nations has warned of a recent increase in human trafficking taking place through social media. According to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) perpetrators are approaching victims on social media and messaging platforms. Experts correlate this surge of online human trafficking with the lockdowns governments have implemented to combat COVID-19 that has left millions of people jobless and struggling to survive.

The Human Trafficking Crisis

Human trafficking has long posed a threat to the safety and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The U.N. has stated that between 2017 and 2018, approximately 75,000 trafficking victims were identified in 110 countries. During this period, 70% of victims were female, 77% of whom were then trafficked for sexual exploitation and 14% for forced labor.

There are several factors that make a person more vulnerable to human trafficking. The most pressing factor, however, is financial struggles or poverty.

Online Human Trafficking and COVID-19

Human trafficking is on the rise as millions are made desperate by the economic consequences of COVID-19. People employed in informal sectors have been particularly impacted by layoffs, while earlier this year migrant workers were left stranded far from home when borders closed and travel bans were implemented. According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic will result in global extreme poverty increasing for the first time in two decades, pushing as many as 150 million people into poverty by 2021.

The impact, however, will be felt the hardest by females. As a result of the pandemic, 47 million more women and girls will be pushed into extreme poverty. Estimates even predict that globally, for every 100 men living in poverty in 2030, there could be as many as 121 women.

Besides  COVID-19’s economic consequences, traffickers have also benefited from the fact that people are spending more time online during lockdowns. While traffickers have usually operated with a great deal of impunity, the internet allows for easier access to vulnerable populations as well as the benefits of anonymity and false identities.

Addressing Human Trafficking During COVID-19

Human trafficking is a global problem but despite the scale of the threat and the advantages that perpetrators have during COVID-19, governments can take action to protect vulnerable groups, especially women and girls.

In an appeal to social media and messaging companies, CEDAW recommended that safety controls be set up to reduce the risk of exposing women and girls to trafficking and sexual exploitation. CEDAW has called upon online platforms to use data, artificial intelligence and analytics to identify possible patterns that could lead to trafficking. It also urges platforms to “put in place the appropriate governance structure and procedures which will allow them to be reactive in their response and provide the relevant level of information to the concerned authorities.”

CEDAW also urged governments to resolve the underlying issues that allow human trafficking to flourish. These issues include sex-based discrimination, economic insecurity, conflict and unsafe conditions for migrants and displaced people.

In addition, the United Nations has urged national governments to ensure that services for trafficking victims and survivors stay open during lockdowns and that the rights of migrant and informal workers are protected by labor laws. Finally, investments in programs for women’s economic empowerment are encouraged as a means of mitigating the disproportionate economic impacts on females. With the appropriate measures in place, human trafficking during COVID-19 can be prevented.

– Angie Grigsby
Photo: Flickr

Rainwater harvestingTechnology has played a significant role in the reduction of global poverty. Two particular areas technology has improved impoverished communities are water access and water quality. For instance, a newly developed piece of technology showcases the potential for enhancing water security throughout Africa. The key is effective rainwater harvesting.

Water Supply Threats

In Africa, increasing water access and sanitation has become a top priority. Consequently, many organizations — the United Nations, the African Union, and the African Development Bank — have come together to solve the water crisis by sponsoring The Africa Water Vision for 2025. It warns that African water resources are threatened by pollution, environmental degradation, and a lack of responsible protection and development.

A New Smartphone App

Despite these threats, a new smartphone app has empowered Africans to efficiently procure their own water. Rainwater Harvesting Africa (RHA) is a smartphone app that the U.N. Environment Programme and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization jointly developed. It enables Africans to use rainwater harvesting systems to obtain their own water.

Usually, rainwater is harvested through the construction of a central water tank that connects to various downspouts. But, with this app, households are able to capture rain runoff for essential personal use.

RWH Africa utilizes real-time meteorological data to track rain patterns throughout Africa. App users can input their location, the area measurement of their rooftop, the number of people living in their household, and how much water they use per day. The app uses this information to calculate how much water can be harvested at a given time for the needs of the user. Additionally, the app provides images and directions detailing how to construct rainwater harvesting systems with locally available materials.

Promising Factors

In addition, RWH Africa has built-in resources that can improve access to water throughout Africa. They can capitalize on increased technological infrastructure to expand its user base. GSMA estimates that 475 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa alone will become mobile internet users within the next five years, and 27% of their mobile internet connections will be on 4G. With increased smartphone usage throughout the continent, more Africans will be able to access this powerful tool of water procurement.

Although Africa needs to increase its internet capacities to maximize the app’s effectiveness, it has a more than sufficient water supply. In 2006, the U.N. Environment Programme and World Agroforestry Centre issued a report indicating that Africa alone receives enough rainfall each year to meet the needs of nine billion people. According to the report, Africa is not water-scarce, but the continent is just poorly equipped to harvest its water resources adequately and safely. RWH Africa gives Africans the knowledge they need to personally capture these vast water resources.

Furthermore, rainwater harvesting is low-cost and easy to maintain, making it widely accessible. According to The Water Project, a household rainwater harvesting system can hold up to 100,000 liters of water. This is enough to allow communities to decouple from centralized water systems that are subject to incompetent or corrupt management. Rainwater harvesting hence enables individuals to take matters into their own hands and decrease their reliance on undependable municipal water sources.

Technology Can Beat Poverty

As internet connection and smartphone usage expand, new solutions to poverty issues, such as water insecurity, will reach more people. RWH Africa serves as an educational and practical tool for rainwater harvesting and thus can be used as an example for similar future efforts. It signifies a positive outcome of increased cooperation between international organizations and local communities in combating global poverty.

John Andrikos
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Project LoonInnovative 21st-century technologies have motivated NGOs and tech companies around the world to develop apps and other online ways for people in developing areas to stay connected. Information provided on the internet or transmitted through SMS assists people worldwide with acquiring resources and employing techniques to advance education, healthcare and agriculture. Unfortunately, some areas remain untouched by the benefits of staying connected because their remoteness prevents internet availability — at least until now. Google’s sister company, Loon, is rising to the challenge of providing internet to remote populations in Africa and recovering populations affected by natural disasters using solar-powered 4G balloons with Project Loon.

Project Loon

Project Loon, which became one of Google’s “moonshot projects” in 2011, began launching balloons by 2013 and partnered with Telkom Kenya in 2018. Following this deal, the solar-powered balloons were tested on 35,000 customers covering over 50,000 square kilometers. The goal was to provide adequate connectivity to underserved and disadvantaged communities, beginning with Kenya. Loon executives stress that providing creative, low-cost solutions is the greatest way to help people, particularly those in rural areas where connectivity could be life-changing. Their passion stems from an intense desire to “challenge the status quo” by “[relying] on knowledge and empathy to make wise decisions.” Initial findings suggest that Loon balloons cover up to 100 times more area than typical cell towers and deliver wifi strong enough for video callings, surfing the web, watching YouTube videos, downloading apps and messaging other users.

How it Works

Loon 4G balloons are essentially flying cell phone towers but they are much lighter and more durable. They have the ability to withstand temperatures below -90°C and to remain steady amid violent winds. After being launched in the United States and traveling through wind currents across the world, the balloons begin their 100-day stays in Kenyan airspace, providing internet download speeds up to 18.9 megabits per second in partnership with AT&T.

Although the balloons heavily depend on wind currents as guides, they also have specially designed, state of the art Flight Systems that consist of three main parts: the balloon envelope, bus and payload. The envelope, made of polyethylene plastic, forms what people typically recognize as a balloon. The bus holds solar panels where the battery is charged, the altitude control system that navigates winds using GPS and the safety gear (parachute) for landing. The payload is the internet provider that houses the LTE antenna and the gimbals which liaise between the balloon and the ground. The balloons also depend on lift gas to loft them 20 kilometers into the air and to assist during the descent alongside local air traffic controllers. Loon specifically designates predetermined landing zones where the balloons are either recycled or prepared for reuse by on-site recovery teams.

After the balloons are collected, they are closely analyzed for holes and tears, allowing examiners to alter their designs and make the balloons stronger if necessary.

Disaster Preparedness

Resilient balloons can go a long way in addressing disaster preparedness and this also presents a significant opportunity for Project Loon to make a difference. Natural disasters often wipe out infrastructure, leaving populations disconnected when communication is more vital than ever. Because Loon balloons fly at such high altitudes and do not require activation within close proximity, there is greater potential for connectivity.

For example, Loon’s balloons were deployed during an earthquake in Peru where they covered nearly 40,000 square miles and were used following a devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico. The company’s role in connecting families in the wake of disaster “is a lifeline” for those affected and can have a life-changing global impact.

Loon Chief Executive Alastair Westgarth has expressed concern about the effects of COVID-19 on disconnected populations. Because the virus has obstructed normalcy, connectivity could be the only way to continue education in developing nations. There are numerous agriculture, healthcare and education resources that, with internet connection, can preserve progression, one of Loon’s immediate goals.

Future Flights

To date, Loon has launched 1,750 4G balloons that have spent more than 1 million hours in the stratosphere and connected over 35,000 users, with the most successful balloon remaining aloft for 300 days and counting. The ultimate goal is to maintain a permanent 35-member fleet over eastern Africa in the hope of connecting and empowering developing nations.

– Natalie Clark
Photo: Flickr

Technological Access in Bhutan

A mountainous landlocked kingdom of 766,000 people, Bhutan has been traditionally been isolated and disconnected from the outside world for a number of centuries, with previous rulers keeping the nation as a “hermit kingdom” prior to the legalization of television and Internet in 1999. Bhutan‘s economy relies heavily on its agriculture and forestry alongside the budding hydroelectricity industry, which has proven difficult due to the mountainous terrain of the country. The country’s main trade partners are India and Bangladesh, with no known relationship with the U.S. or other major U.N. members. The legalization of the Internet in 1999, as well as investments in technological advancement in the mountainous country, is a turning point for the kingdom as the developing technological access in Bhutan is expected to bring the country to the modern era.

Internet Development

Since the Internet’s introduction in 1999, Bhutan quickly was able to quickly build its telecommunication infrastructure and have much of the country connected. Cell phone services began in 2003, with 80 percent of the population owning a cell phone as of 2018, which includes 70 percent of the population that consists of farmers, making Bhutan one of the most connected countries in the world. This jump from the days of being isolated from the world allows the people of Bhutan to communicate both within and outside of the country’s borders.


The continued developing technological access in Bhutan has also seen growth through Bhutan’s own investment into its communication networks. Bhutan‘s internal ICT development includes:

  • implementing protection lines for consumer purchases
  • building stations for mobile carriers and broadcasters and expanding upon broadband connections for wireless connections and private access for citizens
  • investing in cybersecurity and strengthening the overall connection quality

The investments in the internal network lines have allowed Bhutan to quickly connect the nation at a rapid pace. However, challenges remain in terms of developing the rural areas of the country within its mountainous terrain. That said, the government is actively looking at ways to change the status quo.

The National Rehabilitation Program (NRB) and the Common Minimum Program are two examples of initiatives focused on building new facilities and roads as well as easier access to electricity and supplies. Mountain Hazelnuts, a company headquartered in Eastern Bhutan has also made major tech investments for its farms, increasing employment and supplying smartphones for hired farmers that help with directions on the road and improve communication.

Henry Elliott
Photo: Flickr


ZubaBox: An Innovation Bringing Internet to Remote AreasFor the technologically privileged, access to the Internet is considered a tool of our everyday lives. But out of the world’s entire population, only a third of people in developing countries have access to an Internet connection, according to a 2015 report by the International Telecommunications Union. Countries with no access to the Internet are disadvantaged economically, as they are do not have the knowledge and resources to widen their professional opportunities.

But the appearance of a container in remote areas, including refugee camps, has changed the lives of several marginalized communities. Countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe were finally able to bring digital literacy into their neighborhoods through a shipping container, also called ZubaBox, converted into a “solar-powered Internet café or classroom”.

“Zuba” means “sun” in Nyanja, a common language spoken in Malawi and Zambia, which refers to the solar power by which the Internet hub functions. In addition to being environmentally friendly, solar power is crucial for remote populations who often lack the electricity to benefit from standard technologies. The ZubaBox constitutes an innovation that benefits the most remote communities with no access to a stable power supply.

The organization fueling this technology is Computer Aid International, who decided to design the ZubaBox to enhance the online presence of remote rural areas. In each container, they provide refurbished PCs, visualisation cards, monitors, keyboards, mice, an Internet connection, mobile chargers, a ventilation system and benches.
The box can contain enough components for up to 11 individuals, which brings isolated communities together and develops a sense of inclusion. It also enables every individual to grow personally and professionally, which ultimately benefits the neighborhood as a whole. In fact, David Barker, former chief executive of Computer Aid, spoke about the technology as beneficial for doctors who need to contact specialists in the nearest city hospital, school children who want access to educational material or even local people who are looking for ways to expand their professional outlets.

By May 2016, Computer Aid had already placed its 12th Zubabox in a suburb of Bogota, Colombia. Another project on Computer Aid’s agenda is to build a box in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where 150,000 people found refuge after fleeing 20 different African nations. For the largest refugee camps in the world, having a ZubaBox could enable them to open up to the world and provide them with the opportunity to rebuild their lives and find work once outside the camp.

Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

The Broadband Connectivity Gap: How the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development Is Closing the Connectivity Gap in Developing Nations.Broadband and the World Wide Web as we know it are over 20 years old. The ability to go online, search among multiple URLs (or Uniform Resource Locators) and hyperlinks and find information with a few clicks is a relatively new phenomenon that has changed the world. But still, according to the International Telecommunications Unit (ITU), some 52 percent of the world’s population does not have access to the internet. The broadband connectivity gap arises due to the lack of a broadband connection in developing nations.

In lacking broadband, developing nations are also lacking Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) which enable communities to engage with others around the world. ICTs provide ease of cross-national communication and transfer of information and have been successfully implemented by multiple industries including education and healthcare. A study by Ericsson found that social and economic indicators of a country’s sustainability are closely correlated with ICT maturity, suggesting that investing in ICTs can drive social and economic development worldwide.

In 2010, UNESCO and ITU established the Broadband Commission for Digital Development to “boost the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda”. In 2015, the commission evolved into the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in response to the U.N.’s inception of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). In recognizing the importance of global broadband connection, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development targets four of the seventeen SDGs (education, gender equality, infrastructure, and partnerships) with the objective to reach these goals by 2030.

The Broadband Commission met on September 17, 2017, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly. In the State of Broadband 2017 Report, the ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao recognized “that accessibility to broadband is increasing with more affordable prices worldwide (but that) by the end of 2017… 3.9 billion people will still not be online and only 17 percent of people in developing countries will be connected.”

While it is projected that 3.58 billion of the global population will be online by the end of 2017 (up from 3.4 billion at the end of 2016) the disparity between developed and developing countries is apparent. Global household connections, for example, display a disparity with “rates varying between 18 percent for Africa and 84.2 percent for Europe in 2017.” But closing the broadband connectivity gap can bring immense benefits to the world: the ITU’s 2017 annual report details that every additional $1 of ICT infrastructure investment could bring a return of $5 in global GDP by 2025.

The developing world accounts for 95 percent of the people facing this coverage gap. In order to address this, the Commission facilitates a discussion between UNESCO countries and leaders across multiple industries on how to achieve global broadband access by 2030. In response to technological advances, the Broadband Commission enforces policy implementation that allows technologies to bring broadband to the benefit of countries experiencing a connectivity gap. Major cities in developing nations are seeing the first effects of broadband because their infrastructure can support it. Of the people who are not currently connected, 1.25 billion live in an area without 3G or 4G mobile coverage. In rural areas with minimal access and insufficient infrastructure, the installation of broadband connectivity is necessary for developing technology to support further connectivity and finding solutions for future installations.

Mobile broadband networks, combined with the capabilities of smartphones, have enabled billions of people around the world to connect to voice and internet services. Now, nearly 50 percent of the world’s population has access to the technology needed to use these mobile networks. Leveraging this existing mobile infrastructure, according to the annual report, is the most cost-efficient way to bring more people online. Since 2010, mobile operators have invested $1.2 trillion in capital expenditure as they look to deploy mobile broadband networks and increase capacity. Much of these expenditures focus on developing the necessary infrastructure in remote areas to address the broadband connectivity gap. Digicel, for example, launched 4G services in Papua New Guinea in 2011 and now provides telecommunication services to nearly 500,000 previously unserved people.

The establishment of coverage in areas seeing a broadband connectivity gap is one thing, but bringing effective ICTs to the global community also requires the necessary speed and connection capabilities to encourage a sustainable user habit and contribute to affordability. Stronger connections to broadband networks support faster speeds and ease of access to the internet, which is where the fixed broadband networks come in. ITU’s annual report highlights two specific satellite technologies that are “challenging conventional assumptions about speed, capacity, and latency.” High-Throughput Satellites (HTS) and Non-Geostationary Orbit Satellites (NGSO) support increased broadband capacity, faster speeds and lower costs for rural, non-connected areas.

HTSs are small satellite devices like balloons or drones that “fly just around 20 to 50 kilometers off the ground and deliver ‘surgically precise’ connectivity to specific locations.” Many established satellite companies like Intelsat, Inmarsat and Eutelsat have already developed connections using HTS technology. NGSOs operate anywhere from 500 to 2,000 kilometers above the earth in clusters that deliver a steady stream of broadband.

Reaching the goal of complete global connectivity by 2030 needs a combination of complementary technologies and policies enforcing their implementation. Notable companies like Facebook and Google have partnered with satellite companies to provide connectivity to some of the hardest to reach areas on the globe. Each new development, partnership and plan of action advance access to broadband for developing countries. These capabilities go further than just providing access to the internet: broadband connections also lend towards developments in maritime research, aviation technologies and energy developments, to name a few. Global connections lead to breakthrough developments in other sectors and will bring developing nations into a new era of invention and close the broadband connectivity gap.

Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

How Is Poverty ReducedMost modern technology is marketed towards the world’s wealthy, but that should not inhibit its potential to help the world’s poor. As prices fall and production increases, affordable and basic technology may be the solution for eradicating global poverty.

How is poverty reduced through basic technology? First and foremost, by understanding the realistic and productive uses for technology in a community and ensuring that it is relevant.

Too often there are stories of computers collecting dust in African classrooms, or new smartphone apps that can help impoverished people find work — in places where smartphones are unattainable. Despite the vast amount of information on the internet, it is hardly relevant to a rural family in a developing country and will rarely help them escape poverty. In reality, the technology that will help end poverty is more basic.

The United Nations is at the forefront of this vision, with the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) working towards the global spreading of information and communications technology (ICT). Founded in 1996, the IICD has come a long way in understanding the pragmatic strategy needed for implementing modern technology in developing countries. The IICD has learned that “it is not the technology itself that makes the difference but rather the people who own it and apply it.” Therefore, helping people get the most out of ICT is now as equally important to the organization’s mission as introducing it.

The IICD works to apply ICT to health, economic and education sectors in different communities around the world. It’s main focus is in the context of helping the U.N. meet its Millennium Development Goals — an effort that the IICD has been at the center of. In short, the IICD works to instigate large-scale social change through low-tech, relevant technology.

Other organizations, such as Kopernik, work on a smaller scale to improve the lives of many through simple technology. Kopernik connects poor, rural families with basic, life-altering technologies that not only save lives, but also save money and time. These simple technologies include water filters, fuel-efficient stoves and solar lights.

Technologies such as solar lights are affordable and sustainable, and their usage is linked to positive behavioral changes and higher household productivity. Investing and distributing this basic technology should be a major priority, for it is fundamental to increasing human development and reducing poverty.

It is not to say that computers and the internet are not infinitely useful and powerful, but we should keep in mind that the internet won’t help a child if they only have access to contaminated water. So, perhaps the question of how to eliminate poverty has a simple answer: distribute relevant, basic technology.

Catherine Fredette

Photo: Google

Healthcare in NigeriaIn Nigeria, the ratio of healthcare workers to citizens rests at 1.95 per 1,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. The unequal distribution and inadequate production of such workers create systematic challenges for healthcare in Nigeria.

One possible solution shortly, as put forward by Vodacom, is the Internet of Things (IoT). Vodacom is a communication company based in Africa and majority owned by Vodafone, one of the largest communication companies in the world. Kaduna, one of Nigeria’s 36 states, has recently partnered with Vodacom to launch a state-wide technology based healthcare system called SMS for Life 2.0.

This technology-based system is grounded in the Internet of Things, or the idea that “anything that can be connected, will be connected.” Technology is moving towards a future in which any given device can have a switch to the internet or other devices, including items like lamps, washing machines and other devices that historically have nothing to do with communication. The idea is that there will be increased opportunity for efficiency, productivity and safety.

What this looks like about healthcare in Nigeria, specifically the state of Kaduna, is more than 250 facilities currently using this digital form of healthcare with plans to implement it throughout the rest of the country, especially due to increasing chronic illnesses. Vodacom’s future goals include making essential medicines more available to citizens and more efficient healthcare delivery.

Lanre Kolade, managing director of Vodacom Business Nigeria, says, “IoT can be used to increase access to healthcare by extending the scope of care services to rural and hard-to-reach areas and ensuring that essential medicines are available where and when they are needed. This technology is powering connected medical services that enable healthcare professionals to diagnose and consult with patients and first responders remotely, no matter where they are.”

While systems implementing this idea of the Internet of Things allow for endless connections, it also includes challenges that society will have to wade through, such as security and privacy. The boundaries between helping people and monitoring their every move have yet to get explored.

Ellen Ray
Photo: Flickr

Activism on YouTube
Most of the millennial generation might remember the splash that “Kony 2012” made on the Internet, a video about Joseph Kony forcing child soldiers to fight his wars for him in Uganda. Regardless of the resulting conduct of the filmmaker, the film was a digital phenomenon, shared from every social media platform known at the time. There’s no mistaking the amount of awareness that the video generated. Kony 2012 was one of the first and most viral examples of activism on YouTube.

While bingeing on Netflix or finding the latest funny videos on YouTube can waste the day away, platforms such as YouTube also provide a unique space for creativity, art and passion that can easily be tied to activism and global issues. Whether it is a specific person or an organization, a YouTube channel can be the means to a movement. Below are some channels to get started with bineging on activism on YouTube:

  • Jacksgap: While this channel isn’t currently active, all of Jack and Finn Harries’ previous videos remain online, detailing their work and travel to support different charities and issues. Their videos showcase a blend of art and activism that is very well done. Jack Harries is currently traveling in Somalia to study the effects of climate change on the impoverished country.
  • The Uncultured Project: Now a charity, this is a channel run by Shawn Ahmed, designed to raise awareness about global poverty, initially while traveling around Bangladesh. He focuses his videos on a problem as well as a solution. Ahmed sends pictures to donors so they can see the direct impact of their donations.
  • Vlogbrothers: Brothers Hank and John Green, the latter being a famous young adult author, achieved their YouTube success with the idea of Nerdfighteria, which fights the stigma of “the nerd.” However, they also created the Project for Awesome, a way for their subscribers to advocate for charities by making their own videos.
  • Engage by Uplift: This channel advocates against sexual violence in all of its different forms. It seeks to educate and raise awareness for the various aspects of the issue and calls its viewers to action in every video. In terms of activism on YouTube, this channel is upfront and consistent.
  • Tyler Oakley: Oakley focuses on LGBTQ activism by working with The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention. Besides its activism on YouTube, his channel includes plenty of fun and light videos as well as collaborations with other users to keep viewers entertained.

While this is certainly not a comprehensive list, this list provides a basic starting point for seeing what activism on YouTube has to offer. Social media is a major part of life in modern society, and these channels have used it to make a change.

Ellie Ray

Photo: Flickr

One sign of growing wealth in merging markets of developing nations is the increase in use of the internet and digital devices. To provide a picture of the size and scope of this change, here are 10 facts about the internet in emerging markets.

  1. Between 2000 and 2017, internet use in Africa grew by 7,500 percent. In the Middle East, the increase was 4,200 percent, and in Latin America, 2,000 percent.
  2. By the end of last year, 47 percent of the world’s population had internet access; by the end of next year, 51 percent will be internet users, for a total of 3.82 billion people going online.
  3. The number of people going online through use of their mobile phone is increasing. More than 72 percent of internet users last year connected through a mobile phone, up 11.9 percent from 2015. Emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are driving the growth of smartphone internet usage.
  4. The countries experiencing the most rapid growth in smartphone ownership are Turkey (at 42 percent) and Malaysia (34 percent), followed by Chile and Brazil, both at 26 percent.
  5. At the end of 2015, 54 percent of adults in emerging economies were on the internet, an increase of nine percent from 2013. That same year, 21 percent accessed the web through a smartphone. That percentage rose to 37 by the end of 2015.
  6. Internet penetration is especially strong in large emerging countries. At least 72 percent of adults in Russia and Turkey are online. The percentage dips slightly to 68 percent in Malaysia, then again to 65 percent in China and 60 percent in Brazil.
  7. The growth rate for the internet in emerging markets is particularly rapid in these large developing countries. Internet use in Turkey increased by 31 percent between 2013 and 2015. In that same period, Jordan experienced a 20 percent bump. Malaysia followed with a 19 percent increase. Chile, Brazil and China all experienced growth of 10 to 12 percent.
  8. Once online, internet users in emerging markets are more likely to use social networks than internet users from the U.S. and Europe. In the Middle East, 86 percent of internet users visit social networks; in Latin America it is 82 percent. By contrast, 71 percent of Americans online use social networks. The percentage drops to 65 in Europe.
  9. Social networking in emerging countries is especially strong in Jordan (90 percent of adult internet users), Indonesia (89 percent), the Philippines (88 percent), Venezuela (88 percent) and Turkey (87 percent).
  10. The rise in social networking as the use of the internet in emerging markets grows has been particularly swift in China. There, 63 percent of internet users in 2015 reported being social networkers, up 15 percentage points from 48 percent just two years earlier.

Increasing wealth in developing countries, especially large developing countries such as Russia, China and Turkey, is making it possible for more and more of their people to be connected. Continued growth will result in continuing communication and internet use around the world.

Robert Cornet

Photo: Flickr