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Value of connectivity

Economic and social benefits of expanding internet access

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:

  • Long run productivity could be enhanced by as much as 25% in these developing economies.
  • The resulting economic activity could generate $2.2 trillion in additional GDP, a 72% increase in the GDP growth rate, and more than 140 million new jobs.
  • Personal incomes would increase by up to $600 per person a year, thus lifting 160 million people out of extreme poverty.
  • Evidence on the link between health literacy and mortality rates suggests that internet access could save 2.5 million people and 250,000 children.
  • 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients could increase their life expectancy thanks to better monitoring and adherence to treatment.
  • Another 640 million children may be able to access the internet and the wealth of information it makes available while they study.

Read the Deloitte CFO Survey

Key contacts

  • Chris Williams
    Partner,
    Economic Consulting
  • Davide Strusani
    Assistant Director,
    Economic Consulting

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