The GSMA called for industry players to step up cross-sector collaborations to bolster digital inclusion, after research showed 3.2 billion people continued to face barriers to internet access despite being within coverage areas.
Latest figures from the industry association showed progress in the number of people accessing the internet, with 55 per cent online by end-2021 compared with 43 per cent in 2017.
It stated global broadband coverage stood at 95 per cent by end-2021, but added connecting the final 5 per cent “remains an important challenge”.
The GSMA explained barriers include digital literacy, financial pressure, lack of access to network-related products and security risks.
Among the 3.2 billion which remain offline, 93 per cent are based in low- and middle-income countries where mobile is the only access to internet services.
Social and economic factors including gender and skills gaps are preventing the unconnected population from accessing critical information, healthcare, education and employment.
The GSMA also highlighted the impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in slowing efforts to close the digital divide, along with a lack of any significant increase in awareness of mobile internet services.
GSMA director general Mats Granryd called for “governments and organisations worldwide to work alongside the mobile industry and make digital inclusion a genuine priority”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back