“Every day we are moving closer to having almost as many mobile- cellular subscriptions as people on earth,” Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, wrote in United Nations' latest report on ICT.
If the current growth rate for cell-phone use continues, by the end of 2013 , there will be more mobile-phone subscriptions than there are people in the world, the report highlights. Currently there are 7.1 billion people in the planet and 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions.
According to ITU, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations, more than half of the global subscriptions are from the Asia-Pacific region, with 3.5 billion people subscribed. The report adds that mobile-cellular penetration rates stand at 96% globally; 128% in developed countries; and 89% in developing regions.
Europe is the region with the highest Internet penetration rate in the world (75%), followed by America (61%). In Africa, 16% of people are using the Internet, which means only half the penetration rate of Asia and the Pacific.
"The mobile revolution is 'm-powering' people in developing countries by delivering ICT applications in education, health, government, banking, environment and business,” Sanou said.
ITU report has found that between 2009 and 2013, Internet penetration in households has grown fastest in Africa, with annual growth of 27%, followed by 15% annual growth in Asia and the Pacific, the Arab States and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
However, despite the increment of Internet penetration, differences in broadband speed still persist. For instance, Asian countries have the highest implementation of high-speed connections, as well as EU countries. Meanwhile, in Africa, less than 10% of fixed broadband subscriptions offer speeds of at least 2 Mb.
ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Toure explained that the progress was "extraordinary" but that more needed to be done in order to remove this technological gap.