Communications consultancy firm We Are Social published their annual report on January 30th. The report revealed there are now four billion internet users on the planet, including 248 million new users in a year. For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population has an internet connection.
A world without internet is unthinkable for Western societies and especially for people under 25, who have never known a world without this technology. However, the internet is expanding to many areas, which, until now, had been deprived of access. On January 29th, We Are Social published their annual report on the subject, produced in collaboration with Hootsuite (a group which specializes in the management of social networks). The report revealed that 4.02 billion people or 53% of the world’s population now have internet access.
Hitting this symbolic milestone of half the world’s population is less impressive than the sheer rate of growth in the number of internet users, which increased by 7% over the course of 2016. In 2017, 248 million people joined the World Wide Web. That’s more than the population of Brazil and Peru combined.
The African driving force
It’s not surprising that it is Africa driving this global growth in the number of internet users. In comparison to January 2017, the number of African’s connected to the internet has grown by 20% on average, reaching 435 million (out of a total population of 1.27 billion). The study highlighted record-breaking growth in Mali, where the number of internet users increased six-fold in the space of a year.
The “decrease in smartphone and fixed data prices” largely explains this phenomenon, according to the report. Over 200 million people globally bought their first mobile phone in 2017. Even though they aren’t all connected to the internet, the proliferation of mobile phones is encouraging operators to invest more in networks.
We Are Social also found that the number of social media users has also grown dramatically. Since January 2017, this figure has increased by thirteen times, and today stands at 3.19 billion people.