Imagine life without streaming music, pictures of your friends and family, hilarious Buzzfeed articles or even email.
It’s believed more than two-thirds
of the world today does not have access to the Internet – and the ramifications are huge. Internet access drives an average of 1.9 percent of GDP in developing countries, according to McKinsey & Company
, but 3.4 percent of GDP in developed nations, like the United States.
That picture is changing. McKinsey recently reported
that in Africa, for example, Internet usage could grow 13 times by 2025.
While the Internet continues to grow around the world, there are efforts to hasten the speed of its expansion. Internet.org
, a partnership between Facebook and several mobile companies, was founded to help spread access.
“[Internet access] is really important, because connectivity is not an end in itself. It's what connectivity can bring,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said recently
. “There was this Deloitte study that came out the other day that said if you could connect everyone in emerging markets, you could create more than 100 million jobs and bring a lot of people out of poverty.”
Others are approaching this challenge from new, innovative angles. Last year, Google announced
Project Loon, which would use balloons to disperse Internet access to difficult regions of the Earth to reach.
Internet access isn’t just about creating jobs or getting access to viral videos. It can also save lives. Digital health and mobile health technology is revolutionizing healthcare around the world, especially in developing countries where many users have access to affordable, broadband-ready devices.
In 2010, Bill Gates spoke about the potential of mobile health at the mHealth Summit.