Telecommunication Development Bureau Director Brahima Sanou called progress encouraging in many areas. “But more needs to be done – especially in the world’s poorest and remotest regions, where ICTs can arguably make the biggest difference, and help bring people everywhere out of extreme poverty,” he added.

By the end of this year, 46 per cent of households globally will have Internet access at home, up from 44 per cent last year and just 30 per cent in 2010. In the developed world, 81.3 per cent of households now have home Internet access, compared to 34.1 per cent in the developing world, and just 6.7 per cent in the 48 UN-designated least developed countries (LDCs).

Latest data show that growth in Internet use has slowed down, however, posting 6.9 per cent growth in 2015, after 7.4 per cent in 2014. Nonetheless, the number of Internet users in developing countries has almost doubled in the past five years, with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.

Fastest growth continues to be seen in mobile broadband, with the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide having grown more than four-fold in five years, from 800 million in 2010 to an estimated 3.5 billion now. The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has risen much more slowly, to an estimated 800 million today.

“More action will also be needed to ensure that targets for growth and inclusiveness are not missed in developing countries, and in particular in LDCs,” ITU stressed in a news release.

“The Connect 2020 Agenda aims to ensure that at least 50 per cent of households in developing countries and 15 per cent of households in LDCs have access by 2020, but ITU estimates that only 45 per cent of households in developing countries and 11 per cent of LDC households will have Internet access by that date.”

In 2015, Republic of Korea ranked at the top of the IDI, which measures countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, closely followed by Denmark and Iceland.

The IDI top 30 ranking includes countries from Europe and other high-income nations, including Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China), New Zealand, Singapore and the United State.