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Technology Facts & Figures

The Internet

  • The Internet is the fastest-growing tool of communication ever. It took radio broadcasters 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million, television 13 years, and the Internet just 4 years.
  • The Worldwide Internet Population is estimated at 1.08 billion. In 2000 there were 400 million users, and in 1995 20 million users.
  • In 2001 more information could be sent over a single cable in a second than in 1997 was sent over the entire Internet in a month.
  • The cost of transmitting information has fallen dramatically. A trillion bits of information from Boston to Los Angeles from $150,000 in 1970 to 12 cents today. E-mailing a 40-page document from Chile to Kenya costs less than 10 cents, faxing it about $10, sending it by courier $50.
  • The average total cost of using a local dialup Internet account for 20 hours a month in Africa is about USD 60 a month and USD 22 a month in the US. The average African monthly salary is less than USD 60.
  • Native English speakers represent 35% of the online population, although they are less than 10% of the world population. Native Chinese speakers represent the second largest group: 16% of the online population.
  • In Chile 89% of internet users have had tertiary education, in Sri Lanka 65%, and in China 70%.
  • Iceland has the highest percentage of internet users (68%); the United States stands at 56%; Malaysia 34%; Jordan 8%; Palestine 4%; Nigeria 0.6%; Tajikistan 0.1%

The Gender Divide

  • The typical Internet user worldwide is young, male and wealthy – a member of an elite minority.
  • A gender gap exists in access and usage of information and communication technologies. Women represent 42% of Internet users in the world. 37% in Italy and Germany.
  • The gap is narrowing in certain countries: Brazil 47%, Thailand 49%, United States and Canada 51%.

Muslim-Majority Countries

  • Only 4% of Arab women use the Internet. Moroccan women represent almost a third of that figure.
  • There are 16 million internet users in the Middle East. The internet population in the Middle East grew by 390% between 2000 and 2005. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have the highest percentage of Internet users, at 30% and 18.5% respectively, while Internet penetration in Yemen remains below 0.5% of the population.
  • In Palestine, 31.5% of women and 39.8% of men use computers. 23.7% of women and 40.7% of men use the Internet.
  • There is only one telephone for every 10 Arab citizens, while in developed countries the ratio is 1/1.7 persons.
  • There are less than 18 computers per 1,000 persons in the Arab world, compared to the global average of 78.3.
  • El Ghazala, Tunisia was identified as one of the 46 global technology hubs for innovation and achievement. 13 of the hubs identified are in the United States.
  • Two thirds of Jordanian SMEs (small and medium enterprises) use the Internet; 78% of them utilize computers, and 66% go online; just over a quarter have a webpage.
  • Oman has 267 thousand fixed line subscribers for 997 thousand mobile subscribers and 48 thousand internet subscribers.
  • Egypt has the same number of fixed and mobile subscribers (9.7 million).
  • Afghanistan has a combined telephone penetration of 3.4%.

The Digital Divide

  • At the end of the 20th century, 90% of data on Africa was stored in Europe and the United States.
  • With only 18% of the world population, OECD countries contain nonetheless 79% of the world’s internet users.
  • The United States, with a population close to the population of the Middle East, has 199 million Internet users while the Middle East has only 16 million.
  • 34% of internet users are in developing countries. 81% of the world population is in developing countries.
  • The density of fixed telephone lines and mobile telephone lines is 5 times more in developed countries than in developing countries. PC ownership is 11 times more, and internet usage 8 times more. [developed=western Europe, Australia, Canada, japan, new Zealand, the US; everyone else in developing]
  • Of the estimated 5-8 million internet users in Africa, only about 2 million users are outside of North and South Africa. This implies about 1 user for every 250 to 400 people. This compares to the world average of 1 for every 15 people and a North and European average of 1 user for every 2 persons.
  • Within the Global South, opportunities are also unevenly distributed. In the Dominican Republic, 80% of internet users are in the capital. In China, the two cities of Shanghai and Beijing contain as many internet users as the 15 least connected provinces of 600 million people combined. In India, home to a major global hub of innovation, only 0.4% of people use the Internet.
  • Of the approximately 816 million people in Africa in 2001, it is estimated that:
    • 1 in 4 have a radio
    • 1 in 13 have a TV
    • 1 in 35 have a mobile phone
    • 1 in 40 have a fixed line phone
    • 1 in 130 have a PC
    • 1 in 60 use the Internet


  • One third of the world population has never made a telephone call.
  • While Sub-Saharan Africa contains about 10% of the world’s population, it accounts for only 0.2% of the world’s 1 billion telephone lines.
  • The cost of renting a telephone connection on the African continent averages about 20 percent of GDP per capita compared to a world average of 9 percent and an average of only 1 percent in high-income countries.
  • There are under 5 telephones per 100 people in India.
  • In the world, there are over 1.2 billion fixed telephone lines, 1.3 billion cellular subscribers and 140 billion international telephone traffic minutes each year.

Mobile Telephones

  • As of 2002, mobile subscribers worldwide have outnumbered fixed-line subscribers. The mobile cross-over has taken place across geographic criteria, across socio-demographic criteria such as gender, income, or age, and across economic criteria.
  • Brazil has the same number of cellular phone subscribers as the whole of Africa combined. Asia, with 450 million subscribers, has twice the number of subscribers as the Americas combined. There are 836.5 million mobile subscribers in OECD countries.
  • While the United States has 199 million cell phone subscribers, it is not part of the top ten countries with the highest percentage of mobile subscribers. 55% of the US population are mobile subscribers.
  • Africa holds only 3% of the world’s mobile subscribers, yet Africa is the first place where mobile subscribers outnumbered fixed-line subscribers. In five years (1997-2002), the number of cell phone subscribers in Africa grew by 1600%.
  • Nicaragua has more than 3 times more mobile phone subscribers than fixed land lines (739 thousand compared with 214 thousand).
  • The number of mobile subscriptions per 100 people in a given country range from 120 in Luxembourg, to .44 in Malaysia, 24 in Jordan, 13 in Palestine, 3 in Nigeria et 0.7 in Tajikistan.


  • OECD countries, with 14% of the world’s people, accounted for 86% of the patent applications filed in 1998 and 85% of the scientific and technical journal articles published worldwide.
  • Firms in developed countries currently account for 96% of royalties from patents, or $71 billion a year.

The Computing Sector

  • In the UK, women constitute only about 20% of computer science classes (AGCAS 2003). In the US, the percentage of female computer science bachelors has decreased by 28% between 1983 and 1998 (Gurer and Camp 2002). Similarly in the computer science industry, the average female presence hovers around 20% (DfES 2001, AAUW 2000).
  • The computing industry exhibits vertical segregation (certain occupations for women, others for men) as well as horizontal segregation (women clustered in lower echelon occupations); in 1991 only 10% of the members of the British Computing Society were women. In 2000 9% of US IT engineers were women. On the other hand, 80% of data entry personnel was female. (Ahuja 2002; Webster 1996; Taggart & O’Gara 2000)


  • 220 million tons of old computers and other technological hardware are trashed in the United States each year.
  • Only 11% of PCs are recycled; the percentage for televisions and mainframes recycled is lower.
  • The United States generates more e-waste than any other nation .
  • An estimated 50-80% of e-waste collected in the United States for recycling is exported to areas such as China, India or Pakistan. Unusable equipment is also being donated or sold to developing nations as a way to avoid recycling costs.


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very interesting, where did these figures all come from...any chance you'll be producing a refresh?

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