Internet connectivity has already changed many aspects of the lives of individuals around the world and provided far-reaching economic and social benefits. However, of the world’s 7 billion people only 2.7 billion have access to the internet today and the unconnected typically live in developing countries. Extending the opportunities that the internet can bring is critical to accelerating economic and social growth in developing economies, while enabling the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.
Facebook has launched a global partnership, Internet.org, with the goal of making internet access available and affordable to all. They have commissioned Deloitte to examine the ways in which extending access can change economies and societies in developing countries and what benefits this would generate on a number of economic and social dimensions.
The findings suggest that if developing countries could bridge the gap in internet penetration to reach levels developed economies enjoy today, they would experience large increases in GDP growth and productivity and improvements in health conditions and education opportunities. This provides a clear potential to reduce poverty and promote long run economic and social development. The study finds that extending internet access in Africa, Latin America, India and South and East Asia to levels seen in developed countries today would deliver numerous benefits: