Over the last two decades, the numbers of global Internet users have skyrocketed. If this was a measure of economic performance, then it would be possible for all countries to be said have made significant developments over the same time. Although the use of Internet has been accompanied, in many cases, with developments in ICT and other economic sectors, there are significant populations remaining under the poverty line in countries where Internet use has become widespread.
According to a 2015 report by Internet World Statistics, there has been an increase in Internet connectivity of more than 40,000% in certain countries, such as Nigeria and Bangladesh, which are now among the top 20 Internet users in the world.
Such statistics indicate that there are certain factors that are much harder to explain than others. For instance, looking at the table given, among the top ten it is possible to understand why all of these countries, apart from Nigeria, are on that list. For one, they have high GDPs, high GDP per capita, and have more or less been fairly well developed economically.
Thus, a country like Nigeria appearing at the eighth position poses questions to economists scratching their heads as they try to explain this significant rise. Regardless of huge income disparities, it is important to note that Nigeria is one of the countries where the highest numbers of rising millionaires are located. This may be an indication that, despite being less developed than other countries in the top ten, Nigeria’s economic shifts are indicative of a rising economic giant. Other countries in the list are characterized by having either large populations, liberalization of information technologies, economic growth, or some combination of these factors.
Looking at the statistics of a country such as Iran and Egypt, however, one will not fail to realize that the number of Internet users is much lower than it is supposed to be. This could be an indication that governments in these places still control the liberalization of ICT. As a result, the use of social media, which is the main reason that many people have turned to the Internet, is censored. These countries should be showing higher numbers given their populations and level of economic development.
Madagascar is estimated to have slightly over 22,000,000 people. Therefore, having a population of more than 17 million using the internet portrays a very high penetration rate. This is quite a surprising development to us, because it is estimated that over 90% of the population of Madagascar lives below $2 per day, making the island nation one of the poorest countries in Africa. How such a country can have such a high internet penetration rate leaves economists with many questions to ponder. It is impossible to tell whether this penetration has been resultant of subsidization of Internet devices, or from the government there extenseively liberalizing the information technology sector. The latter of which is very unlikely, given that the country has not had a stable regime in some time, and the political climate here is dominated by accusations and counter-accusations of corruption.
The Internet, if used responsibly and efficiently, will undoubtedly bring positive changes to the financial and social welfare of populations around the world. Such positive IT outcomes will be fostered anywhere governments and the private sector join hands to formulate and implement policies allowing safe and effective access to the Internet.
List Of Countries By Internet Users
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