The Internet was first introduced to Laos in 1994 with an email server set up at the Lao National Polytechnic Institute, and by 2016, the number of reported internet users in the country stood at just 15.7% of the population. This is up from the 7% reported in 2010, which was already double the number of users there were in 2008. But with 84.3% of the country still unconnected today, the digital divide remains a complex challenge. Even though Laos has experienced a steady rise in internet users along with economic development, bridging the digital divide requires more than just introducing the population to smartphones and computers.
The country of Laos provides a case study that demonstrates the main barriers to internet adoption and helps us understand what needs be done to get more people connected.