"For every person online, there are two who are not. By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected. #NewDigitalAge"
The above statement was tweeted by Google chairman Eric Schmidt on Saturday, April 13. Given Schmidt’s prominence and the boldness of his claim, it naturally sparked a lively discussion as to whether it would be possible (and desirable) for the entire world population to be online by 2020.
Considering the fact that, as of 2012, only a good third of the world’s 7 billion people were online, it seems unlikely that Schmidt’s prediction will come true. What’s more important, millions of those 7 billion people are suffering from malnourishment and lacking access to clean drinking water, so providing them with internet access shouldn’t and probably won’t be a priority in the next few years.
What shouldn’t be forgotten though, is the role that mobile devices could play in connecting people from developing countries. Mobile phones have helped people overcome infrastructural deficits in the past (e.g. a large part of small financial transactions in Africa are carried out via mobile phone), and they could help provide many people with internet access as well.