India Has the Largest Offline Population, Says World Bank Report

India Has the Largest Offline Population, Says World Bank Report
Highlights
  • India has the third highest number of Internet users by absolute number.
  • But nearly one billion Indians still don't have Internet access.
  • 8 in 10 individuals in India own a mobile phone.

Despite rapid spread of digital technologies in India, nearly a billion people still need to connect to the Internet for pushing growth, creating jobs and accessing public services, says a World Bank report.

It also pointed out that India has most restrictive market regulation in retail finance and banking.

"At least 8 in 10 individuals in India own a mobile phone and digital technologies are spreading rapidly. With nearly a billion people still not connected to the Internet, the opportunities for increasing access to digital technology for creating higher growth, more jobs, and better public services are significant for India," said the World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, authored by Co-Directors, Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann.

Releasing the report in India on Tuesday, Mishra said that digital development strategies in India need to be broader than Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategies.

"There is little doubt about the transformative potential of digital technologies. However, they are not a shortcut to development, though they can be an accelerator when used in the right way," he said.

India is currently the largest exporter of ICT services and skilled manpower in the developing world. The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry today employs more than 3.1 million workers, 30 percent of them are women.

World Bank Country Director in India Onno Ruhl said the digital revolution is transforming the world, aiding information flow and creating huge opportunities for growth and poverty reduction.

"India's Aadhaar programme is today a model for many countries and recent initiatives like Digital India has the potential to generate greater digital dividends among all sections of its society," Ruhl said.

He added however that reaping full benefits will require affordable and wider access to the Internet and skills that enable all workers to leverage the digital economy.

Recognising India's early success in digital technology when it became a global powerhouse for information services, the report pointed out that even while having the largest number of offline population in the world, India has the third highest number of Internet users by absolute number, only behind China and the United States.

According to WDR, India had more than 200 million Internet users, compared to 665 million in China.

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Further reading: Internet, Offline Population, Online
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