A new report from the World Economic Forum indicates that the digital divide between the most technologically advanced nations and the least, is showing little signs of decreasing.
Dublin: 23.04.2014 05.05PM
The latest Eurostat figures on internet access and usage across Europe show that Ireland has made great progress since 2006, with 65pc of homes now with broadband. Sadly, almost a quarter (21pc) of the population has never used the internet.
In 2006, only 50pc of the Irish population had internet access and 13pc had broadband.
Zoom forward to 2011 and the picture is transformed to 78pc of the population with some form of internet access and 65pc of the population with some form of broadband.
In 2006, some 42pc of the population never used the internet.
This year, some 21pc of the population admit to not having ever used the internet, almost a quarter of the population.
In terms of those who do use the internet, the Eurostat figures show that 47pc of internet users do so to obtain information from the websites of public authorities.
Some 45pc have submitted and completed official forms on public authority websites and 56pc use the internet to order goods or services for private use.
The Irish experience is largely on par with the wider European picture insofar as almost a quarter of persons aged 16-74 in the EU27 have never used the internet.
In the EU27, almost three-quarters of households had access to the internet in the first quarter of 2011, compared with almost half in the first quarter of 2006. The share of households with broadband internet connections more than doubled between 2006 and 2011, to reach 68pc in 2011 compared with 30pc in 2006. During the same period, the share of individuals aged 16-74 in the EU27 who had never used the internet decreased from 42pc to 24pc.
The level of internet access increased in all member states between 2006 and 2011, however differences remain significant. In 2011, shares of internet access of 90pc and more were recorded in the Netherlands (94pc), Luxembourg and Sweden (both 91pc) and Denmark (90pc), while shares of 50pc and below were registered in Bulgaria (45pc), Romania (47pc) and Greece (50pc).
The proportion of households with a broadband connection rose in all member states in 2011 compared with 2006. Sweden (86pc) registered the highest share of broadband connections in 2011, followed by Denmark (84pc), the Netherlands and the UK (both 83pc) and Finland (81pc), while Romania (31pc), Bulgaria (40pc) and Greece (45pc) had the lowest.
The target set for 2015 by the Digital Agenda for Europe is to reduce the share of individuals in the EU27 aged 16-74 who had never used the internet to 15pc. This share stood at 24pc in the EU27 in 2011. In 2011, the highest proportions of those having never used the internet were observed in Romania (54pc of individuals aged 16-74), Bulgaria (46pc), Greece (45pc), Cyprus and Portugal (both 41pc), and the lowest in Sweden (5pc), Denmark and the Netherlands (both 7pc), Luxembourg (8pc) and Finland (9pc).
Almost half of internet users aged 16-74 in the EU27 used the internet within the last 12 months to obtain information from websites of public authorities, and 28pc to submit completed forms to public authorities, for example tax declarations (e-government).
In 2011, the largest proportions of internet users who obtained information from websites of public authorities were observed in Denmark (86pc of internet users), Sweden (74pc), Finland (65pc), Estonia and the Netherlands (both 62pc). The highest shares of those having used the internet for submitting completed forms to public authorities were recorded in Denmark (70pc of internet users), the Netherlands (52pc), Portugal (48pc) and Estonia (46pc).
In 2011, 58pc of internet users in the EU27 had ordered goods or services over the internet (e-commerce) within the last 12 months. The highest shares were observed in the United Kingdom (82pc), Denmark and Germany (both 77pc) and Sweden (75pc).