The World Bank in its 2016 World Development Report (WDR ) on Digital Dividends reveals that the number of internet users globally had more than tripled within this decade, from 1 billion in 2015 to about 3.2 billion by the end of 2015.
It describes internet users as individuals who have used the Internet (from any location) in the last 12 months. Internet can be used via a computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant, games machine, digital TV etc.
According to the report, digital revolution had brought immediate private benefits-easier communication and information, greater convenience, free digital products and new forms of leisure, adding it has also created a profound sense of social connectedness and global community.
The report revealed that more households in Nigeria and other developing nations owned a mobile phone rather than have access to electricity or clean water, and an estimated 70 percent of the bottom fifth of the population in developing nations could boast of owning a cell phone.
From 1 billion in 2005, the number of internet users has more than tripled in a decade to an estimated 3.2 billion at the end of 2015, the report stated, adding that businesses, people, and governments are more connected than ever before.
However, digital divide was still large, as nearly 60 percent of the world’s people were still offline and could not fully take part in the digital economy.
Maximizing digital dividends according to the report, would require better understanding of how technology interacted with other factors that were important for development, describing it as “analog complements.”
Digital technologies have spread rapidly in much of the world. Digital dividends have lagged behind. In many instances, digital technologies have boosted growth, expanded opportunities, and improved service delivery.
Therefore, for digital technologies to benefit everyone, everywhere requires closing the remaining digital divide, especially in internet access.
It also said that digital technology could make routine, transaction-intensive tasks cheaper, faster and more convenient, adding, however, that most tasks also had an aspect that could be automated, requiring human judgment, intuition and discretion.