Lagos — The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Friday estimated that 2.7 billion people, representing 39 per cent of the world's population, would be using the Internet by the end of 2013.
Dr Hamadoun Toure, the Secretary-General ITU, said this in a statement he issued on the "The World in 2013: ICT Facts and Figures" report.
The report also said Internet access would remain limited in the developing world, with only 31 per cent of the population forecasted to be online at the end of 2013.
It said the 31 per cent online connection in the developing countries was low, when compared with the estimated 77 per cent in the developed world.
"Europe will remain the world's most connected region with 75 per cent Internet penetration, outpacing Asia and the Pacific (32 per cent) and Africa (16 per cent)," the report added.
The report indicated that the household Internet penetration, often considered the most important measure of Internet access, would continue to rise.
ITU estimated that by the end of 2013, 41 per cent of the world's households would be connected to the Internet.
"Over the past four years, household access has grown fastest in Africa, with an annual growth rate of 27 per cent.
"But despite a positive general trend, 90 per cent of the 1.1 billion households around the world that are still unconnected are in the developing world," the ITU said.
The new figures showed strong sustained demand for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services, with uptake spurred by a steady fall in the price of broadband Internet.
It predicted that there would soon be as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people inhabiting the planet, with the figure set to be higher than seven billion early in 2014.
ITU reported that more than half of all mobile subscriptions were now in Asia, which remains the powerhouse of market growth.
It said that by the end of 2013, overall mobile penetration rates would have reached 96 per cent globally, with 128 per cent in the developed world, and 89 per cent in developing countries.
The report indicated that with many markets saturated, and penetration at over 100 per cent in four of the six ITU world regions, mobile-cellular uptake is already slowing substantially.
According to the report, growth rates are falling to their lowest levels, ever in both the developed and developing worlds. (NAN)