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Global Digital Divide
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        According to the Miniwatts Marketing Group's Internet Usage and World Population Statistics (last updated Sept. 18, 2006, see figure 1), the worldwide Internet penetration is 16.7%. As to the regional difference, in North America, the penetration rate is 69.1%, but this figure in three other regions is around or even lower than 10%, in Africa it is just 3.6%, Asia 10.8%, and the Middle East 10.0%. Since these three regions together make up 73.4% of the world’s population, this in fact means that three fourth of the world has extremely low Internet penetration. Although the usage growth in these regions is encouraging, the gap between these regions is more impressive. Just as Norris stated by citing OECD’s warning, the affluent states at the cutting edge of technological change have reinforced their lead in the new knowledge economy but so far the benefits of the Internet have not yet trickled down far to Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, let alone to the poorest areas in Sub- Saharan Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia (2001).

  Figure 1 WORLD INTERNET USAGE AND POPULATION STATISTICS

World Regions

Population
% of World

% Population
( Penetration )

Usage
% of World

Usage Growth
2000-2006

Africa

14.1 %

3.6 %

3.0 %

625.8 %

Asia

56.4 %

10.8 %

36.4 %

245.5 %

Europe

12.4 %

38.2 %

28.4 %

193.7 %

Middle East

2.9 %

10.0 %

1.8 %

479.3 %

North America

5.1 %

69.1 %

21.1 %

112.0 %

Latin America/Caribbean

8.5 %

15.1 %

7.7 %

361.4 %

Oceania / Australia

0.5 %

54.1 %

1.7 %

141.0 %

WORLD TOTAL

100.0 %

16.7 %

100.0 %

200.9

Source: Miniwatts Marketing Group's Internet Usage Statistics, (removed two columns of “population” and “Internet Usage”) Available at: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm  (consulted 22 November 2006)

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