The connected world is still a fantasy, as so many around the world remain digitally isolated. Isolated because they don’t own smartphone, and/or because they don’t have access to the Internet. Today, there are around 4 billion people without access to high speed mobile internet due to a lack of infrastructure.
These disparities reveal the already existing inequalities between developed and developing countries. In fact, the countries on the margins of mobile telephony are the same countries that have little purchasing power, and a low GDP, namely those in Africa and South and Central Asia. As proof, if Internet penetration is higher in North America (87.9%) or Europe (73.5%), in Asia penetration drops to 38%, and in Africa it’s 27%. It is on the African continent that we find the countries such as Chad, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia that have the worst Internet connection, if any connection at all. Another principal problem that touches all countries, is the quality of network and quality of connection. In addition to the urban-rural divide, even in the best-equipped territories, there are chronic problems of connectivity, not to mention the fact that the networks themselves can be saturated or do not offer continuous coverage.
The Importance of a Connected World
Connecting the world is a crucial stake, given that today everything takes place on the Internet or via a mobile phone.
Since access to varied and abundant information has become easy and inexpensive, we are fast evolving into an information society. The necessary counterpart for this type of society is its ability to spread information. The more a society can circulate information, the stronger its global presence becomes, and it is taken seriously as a major actor on the international scene. So to connect the world, is above all to facilitate the diffusion of information to all, and, consequently, permit each person to be an active member of this new global ecosystem. To this end, mobile Internet offers users unlimited informational perspectives and social interactions, instantaneously, regardless of time or place. In short, connecting the world increases freedom for all.
On the other hand, to not have access to information, is to be excluded from this ecosystem and to remain in a political, social, and economic straightjacket, with few future prospects. The danger is that in limiting diffusion of information, or depriving some of connection, growth and development of the country is inhibited. If a country does not open itself to information and does not diffuse information, it remains indefinitely outside of the global dynamic. North Korea is an example of this: out of the 25 million inhabitants, only 2 million have mobile subscriptions, which are limited to domestic calls. Internet and mobile telephony are now preconditions for all countries that want to play a role in globalization.
So to connect the world, is to give each person the freedom to read, to teach, to write, and to share. In the long-term, it is to improve international relations, and therefore to improve the quality of life and combat the ills of society.
A Market Full of Promise
The omnipresent information society is turning into a connected society. Still young, this new market is nevertheless full of promise and overflowing with potential. The giants of the Web such as Google and Facebook, as well as other startups, understand this and are investing in connecting the world. This is truly the challenge of the coming years!
While the world is still yet to be connected, we can confidently say that it’s headed in the right direction. Connecting the world can only be beneficial, both in the short and long run.
Albert Szulman, Be-Bound’s former CEO, is a seasoned Entrepreneur who spent his life developing or turning around businesses, while trying to contribute to build a better World, which is why he joined Rotary International years ago. He founded Be-Bound late 2011 with one idea: bridging the digital divide and connecting people all around the World, and especially the “Other 4 billion”. Follow Albert Szulman and take part in the LinkedIN discussion here.