Global Internet population reaches new high

21 november 2002, 12:50

The number of Internet users worldwide is expected to reach 655 million by the end of 2002, according to the United Nations (Nov 19, 2002).

A new report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) indicates that developing countries accounted for almost one third of new Internet users in 2001.

The global Internet adoption rate rose by almost 30 percent during the year, according to UNCTAD?s annual E-Commerce and Development Report. In 2001 there were around 500 million Net users online around the world.

UNCTAD reports that the number of Internet users in 2001 rose 44 percent in Asia, 43 percent in Africa, 33 percent in Latin America, 33 percent in Europe and just 10 percent in North America.

The study indicates that the US has the largest number of Internet users in the world, with nearly 143 million people online. China has 56.6 million Internet users, making it the second biggest Internet population in the world in absolute numbers.

UNCTAD estimates that ecommerce trade in 2002 will total USD2.3 billion, up 50 percent on 2001. By the end of 2003, the value of global ecommerce will reach USD3.9 billion.

At present growth rates around 18 per cent of all purchasing by firms and individuals will be carried out via the Net by 2006.

However, while ecommerce is becoming increasing common in developed nation, it has failed to take-off in developing countries.

The US presently accounts for just under 45 percent of total world ecommerce, while Western Europe has about 25 percent and Japan around 15 percent.

But the share of developing countries is likely to remain at around 6.7 percent in the coming years.

In Africa, just one in 118 people has Internet access and ecommerce outside South Africa is virtually non-existence.

UNCTAD estimates that worldwide mcommerce revenues will total nearly USD50 billion in 2002.

Marco Derksen
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