Universal access to free internet is the need of the hour
Updated: Dec 6, 2022
At NET DEMOCRACY, we believe it is the basic right of every human to have access to the free internet. This enables growth and prosperity of the human kind.
It is a powerful tool for the delivery of essential services such as education and healthcare, offers increased opportunities for women's empowerment and environmental sustainability, and contributes to enhanced government transparency and accountability. It also helps foster the social development of communities, including within the broader global context.
The challenge is to expand broadband access to all. Only about 35 percent of the population in developing countries has access to the Internet (versus about 80 percent in advanced economies). Broadband has also become a foundation for smart infrastructure (e.g. Intelligent Transport Systems and Smart Electric grids) that is facilitated by new wireless technologies. It can help create jobs in information and communication technology (ICT), engineering and other sectors, as well as help catalyze job skills development, an important avenue toward poverty reduction and shared prosperity.
In addition, broadband can help expand the reach of task-based work through online outsourcing platforms, which are projected to provide millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue over the coming years. Raising Internet penetration to 75 percent of the population in all developing countries (from the current level of approximately 35 percent) would add as much as US$2 trillion to their collective gross domestic product (GDP) and create more than 140 million jobs around the world.
The challenge is to expand broadband access, especially in rural areas. Even “digital divides” in access exist across regions and countries, such divides within countries have a disproportionate impact on rural communities and the poor. For example, while broadband use in the capital cities of India, the Kyrgyz Republic and Moldova and are at the same level as some Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members, usage in these three countries’ rural areas is among the lowest in the world.