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Global internet inclusion could lift 500m out of poverty, and add over $6trn to global GDP

Press release

Global internet inclusion could lift 500m out of poverty, and add over $6trn to
global GDP

Internet growth has slowed because of barriers to online access and usage in
the telecom, content and retail markets

LONDON, 2016-05-17 01:01 CEST (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --
Global inclusion in the Internet could bring seven percent of the world’s
population – 500 million people - above absolute poverty levels, and add US$6.7
trillion to global economic output, according to a new study by Strategy&,
PwC’s strategy consulting business.

The study, for Facebook, encompassed 120 countries over a 10-year period and
describes how the Internet could change as more people from developing markets
get online. It examines how barriers to accessing the internet could be
removed, and how the internet could change as more people from developing
markets get online.

Despite the ongoing digital revolution, the number of new Internet subscribers,
most of whom are in developing nations, has slowed in recent years, only
growing in single digits since 2013. This leaves 4.1 billion people
disconnected from a modern economy that would benefit by over US$6 trillion
with their participation.

According to the report “Connecting the World”, global Internet inclusion would
mean that there could be five Internet users in developing markets for every
one user in developed markets, compared to the current ratio of two to one.

Bringing the whole world online would create huge benefits for developing
countries and for businesses over the coming five years, including:

-- Social and economic improvement for over 4 billion people
-- An additional global economic output of US$6.7 trillion
-- A $400 billion growth opportunity for telecom operators
-- A $200 billion opportunity for content providers

“Enabling universal access to the Internet is one of the fundamental
development challenges of our era,” says Bahjat El-Darwiche, co-author of the
Strategy& study and a partner with PwC Middle East. “To allow people in the
developing world to participate fully in the modern economy and benefit from
the Internet’s transformative impact, we need to make Internet access easier
and cheaper, provide people with compelling reasons to go online, and support
people as they discover the Internet and use it for the first time.”

Progress has been slow due to barriers including the cost of coverage, existing
infrastructure speed and capacity, and the need to implement new infrastructure
where it does not exist. The study finds that with retail Internet prices
needing to fall nearly 70 percent to make the Internet affordable to 80 percent
of the population, action is required across key areas of connectivity, content
and the retail service to bring more people online:

-- Replacing current 2G networks with 3G or 4GLTE could bring a 60-70%
reduction in the cost per MB to serve developing markets, making it
profitable for operators to provide internet services, and opening up the
internet to over 2bn people.
-- Providing content through a series of local high speed networks, would make
it affordable for a further 300m people.
-- Offline distribution of content, including through national and regional
data exchanges would improve access and affordability for a further 170m
-- Governments offering content focused on education, social services or
business opportunities could create an incentive for a further 200m to go
-- Brand or subscriber subsidized access, for example learning centers, could
bring another 500 million online globally

“The inclusive Internet of the future will be different from today’s Internet,”
says Mathias Herzog, Strategy& report co-author and principal with PwC US. “It
will be linguistically, culturally, and economically more adapted to the needs
of the previously unconnected, and it will be the primary channel for the
provision of critical services to those most marginalized in today’s physical
economy. The reasons for going online will tilt towards productivity, micro
enterprise, and education, and there will be growth in e-commerce that sources
from and sells to the poorest consumers.”

Reaching the world’s remotest and poorest inhabitants will require using
innovative and disruptive technologies. “We need to find new approaches in the
markets for connectivity, content, and retail if we are to harness the power of
the Internet for development and poverty reduction,” says Andrew Bocking,
Product Manager for at Facebook.

To learn more about Connecting the World: Ten mechanisms for global inclusion,
visit A copy of the global study is also available
from the media contact. Additional multi-media assets are also available.

About the Connecting the World report: The report, “Connecting the world: Ten
mechanisms for global inclusion” was prepared by Strategy&, part of the PwC
network for Facebook Inc. to assess the barriers to Internet adoption and
consider mechanisms that could accelerate Internet penetration in support of
Facebook’s initiative.

The Strategy& Digital Prosperity Project brings together leading experts to
provide thought leadership at the intersection of technology and economics. The
project has developed measures of digitization and digital maturity to better
inform policymakers and business leaders on how to use digitization to further
economic and social progress.

About Strategy&
Strategy& is a global team of practical strategists committed to helping you
seize essential advantage. We do that by working alongside you to solve your
toughest problems and helping you capture your greatest opportunities. We bring
100 years of strategy consulting experience and the unrivalled industry and
functional capabilities of the PwC network to the task. We are part of the PwC
network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people committed to
delivering quality in assurance, tax, and advisory services. To learn more
about PwC’s Strategy&, visit

© [2016] PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or
more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.

Kiran Chauhan
Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting business
T: +1 646 890 8695

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