Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Carmen Ang. The original is [linked here]

Next billion internet users

Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?

Internet adoption has steadily increased over the years—it’s more than doubled since 2010.

Despite its widespread use, a significant portion of the global population still isn’t connected to the internet, and in certain areas of the world, the number of disconnected people skews towards higher percentages.

Using information from DataReportal, this visual highlights which regions have the greatest number of people disconnected from the web. We’ll also dive into why some regions have low numbers, and take a look at which countries have seen the most growth in the last year.

Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Number of People

The majority of countries with lower rates of internet access are in Asia and Africa. Here’s a look at the top 10 countries with the highest numbers of people not connected to the web:

Rank Country / Territory Unconnected People % of Population
1 India 685,591,071 50%
2 China 582,063,733 41%
3 Pakistan 142,347,735 65%
4 Nigeria 118,059,925 58%
5 Bangladesh 97,427,352 59%
6 Indonesia 96,709,226 36%
7 Ethiopia 92,385,728 81%
8 Democratic Republic of Congo 71,823,319 81%
9 Brazil 61,423,295 29%
10 Egypt 46,626,170 46%

*Note: Rankings only include countries/territories with populations over 50,000.

Interestingly, India has the highest number of disconnected people despite having the second largest online market in the world. That being said, 50% of the country’s population still doesn’t have internet access—for reference, only 14% of the U.S. population remains disconnected to the web. Clearly, India has some untapped potential.

China takes second place, with over 582 million people not connected to the internet. This is partly because of the country’s significant rural population—in 2019, 39% of the country’s population was living in rural areas.

The gap in internet access between rural and urban China is significant. This was made apparent during China’s recent switch to online learning in response to the pandemic. While one-third of elementary school children living in rural areas weren’t able to access their online classes, only 5.7% of city dwellers weren’t able to log on.

It’s important to note that the rural-urban divide is an issue in many countries, not just China. Even places like the U.S. struggle to provide internet access to remote or rugged rural areas.

Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Share of Population

While India, China, and Pakistan have the highest number of people without internet access, there are countries arguably more disconnected.

Here’s a look at the top 10 most disconnected countries, by share of population:

Rank Country / Territory % of Population Unconnected People
1 North Korea 100% 25,722,103
2 South Sudan 92% 10,240,199
3 Eritrea 92% 3,228,429
4 Burundi 90% 10,556,111
5 Somalia 90% 14,042,139
6 Niger 88% 20,977,412
7 Papua New Guinea 88% 7,761,628
8 Liberia 88% 4,372,916
9 Guinea-Bissau 87% 1,694,458
10 Central African Republic 86% 4,132,006

There are various reasons why these regions have a high percentage of people not online—some are political, which is the case of North Korea, where only a select few people can access the wider web. Regular citizens are restricted from using the global internet but have access to a domestic intranet called Kwangmyong.

Other reasons are financial, which is the case in South Sudan. The country has struggled with civil conflict and economic hardship for years, which has caused widespread poverty throughout the nation. It’s also stifled infrastructural development—only 2% of the country has access to electricity as of 2020, which explains why so few people have access to the web.

In the case of Papua New Guinea, a massive rural population is likely the reason behind its low percentage of internet users—80% of the population lives in rural areas, with little to no connections to modern life.

Fastest Growing Regions

While internet advancements like 5G are happening in certain regions, and showing no signs of slowing down, there’s still a long way to go before we reach global connectivity.

Despite the long road ahead, the gap is closing, and previously untapped markets are seeing significant growth. Here’s a look at the top five fast-growing regions:

Rank Region Change in internet use (From 2019 to 2020)
1 Central Africa +40%
2 Southern Asia +20%
3 Northern Africa +14%
4 Western Asia +11%
5 Caribbean +9%

Africa has seen significant growth, mainly because of a massive spike of internet users in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—between 2019 and 2020, the country’s number of internet users increased by 9 million (+122%). This growth has been facilitated by non-profit organizations and companies like Facebook, which have invested heavily in the development of Africa’s internet connectivity.

India has also seen significant growth—between 2019 and 2020, the number of internet users in the country grew by 128 million (+23%).

If these countries continue to grow at similar rates, who knows what the breakdown of internet users will look like in the next few years?

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Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

Next billion internet users

Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?

Internet adoption has steadily increased over the years—it’s more than doubled since 2010.

Despite its widespread use, a significant portion of the global population still isn’t connected to the internet, and in certain areas of the world, the number of disconnected people skews towards higher percentages.

Using information from DataReportal, this visual highlights which regions have the greatest number of people disconnected from the web. We’ll also dive into why some regions have low numbers, and take a look at which countries have seen the most growth in the last year.

Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Number of People

The majority of countries with lower rates of internet access are in Asia and Africa. Here’s a look at the top 10 countries with the highest numbers of people not connected to the web:

Rank Country / Territory Unconnected People % of Population
1 India 685,591,071 50%
2 China 582,063,733 41%
3 Pakistan 142,347,735 65%
4 Nigeria 118,059,925 58%
5 Bangladesh 97,427,352 59%
6 Indonesia 96,709,226 36%
7 Ethiopia 92,385,728 81%
8 Democratic Republic of Congo 71,823,319 81%
9 Brazil 61,423,295 29%
10 Egypt 46,626,170 46%

*Note: Rankings only include countries/territories with populations over 50,000.

Interestingly, India has the lowest levels of connectivity despite having the second largest online market in the world. That being said, 50% of the country’s population still doesn’t have internet access—for reference, only 14% of the U.S. population remains disconnected to the web. Clearly, India has some untapped potential.

China takes second place, with over 582 million people not connected to the internet. This is partly because of the country’s significant rural population—in 2019, 39% of the country’s population was living in rural areas.

The gap in internet access between rural and urban China is significant. This was made apparent during China’s recent switch to online learning in response to the pandemic. While one-third of elementary school children living in rural areas weren’t able to access their online classes, only 5.7% of city dwellers weren’t able to log on.

It’s important to note that the rural-urban divide is an issue in many countries, not just China. Even places like the U.S. struggle to provide internet access to remote or rugged rural areas.

Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Share of Population

While India, China, and Pakistan have the highest number of people without internet access, there are countries arguably more disconnected.

Here’s a look at the top 10 most disconnected countries, by share of population:

Rank Country / Territory % of Population Unconnected People
1 North Korea 100% 25,722,103
2 South Sudan 92% 10,240,199
3 Eritrea 92% 3,228,429
4 Burundi 90% 10,556,111
5 Somalia 90% 14,042,139
6 Niger 88% 20,977,412
7 Papua New Guinea 88% 7,761,628
8 Liberia 88% 4,372,916
9 Guinea-Bissau 87% 1,694,458
10 Central African Republic 86% 4,132,006

There are various reasons why these regions have a high percentage of people not online—some are political, which is the case of North Korea, where only a select few people can access the wider web. Regular citizens are restricted from using the global internet but have access to a domestic intranet called Kwangmyong.

Other reasons are financial, which is the case in South Sudan. The country has struggled with civil conflict and economic hardship for years, which has caused widespread poverty throughout the nation. It’s also stifled infrastructural development—only 2% of the country has access to electricity as of 2020, which explains why so few people have access to the web.

In the case of Papua New Guinea, a massive rural population is likely the reason behind its low percentage of internet users—80% of the population lives in rural areas, with little to no connections to modern life.

Fastest Growing Regions

While internet advancements like 5G are happening in certain regions, and showing no signs of slowing down, there’s still a long way to go before we reach global connectivity.

Despite the long road ahead, the gap is closing, and previously untapped markets are seeing significant growth. Here’s a look at the top five fast-growing regions:

Rank Region Change in internet use (From 2019 to 2020)
1 Central Africa +40%
2 Southern Asia +20%
3 Northern Africa +14%
4 Western Asia +11%
5 Caribbean +9%

Africa has seen significant growth, mainly because of a massive spike of internet users in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—between 2019 and 2020, the country’s number of internet users increased by 9 million (+122%). This growth has been facilitated by non-profit organizations and companies like Facebook, which have invested heavily in the development of Africa’s internet connectivity.

India has also seen significant growth—between 2019 and 2020, the number of internet users in the country grew by 128 million (+23%).

If these countries continue to grow at similar rates, who knows what the breakdown of internet users will look like in the next few years?

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The Biggest Ammonium Nitrate Explosions since 2000


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

Ammonium nitrate explosions Beirut

The Biggest Ammonium Nitrate Explosions since 2000

This week, a massive explosion involving ammonium nitrate rocked the city of Beirut, sending shock waves through the media.

This recent tragedy is devastating, and unfortunately, it’s not the first time this dangerous chemical compound has caused widespread damage.

Today’s graphic outlines the biggest ammonium nitrate explosions over the last 20 years.

A Brief Explanation of Ammonium Nitrate

Before getting into the details, first thing’s first—what is ammonium nitrate?

Ammonium nitrate is formed when ammonia gas is combined with liquid nitric acid. The chemical compound is widely used in agriculture as a fertilizer, but it’s also used in mining explosives. It’s highly combustible when combined with oils and other fuels, but not flammable on its own unless exposed to extremely high temperatures.

It’s actually relatively tough for a fire to cause an ammonium nitrate explosion—but that hasn’t stopped it from happening numerous times in the last few decades.

The Death Toll

Some explosions involving ammonium nitrate have been deadlier than others. Here’s a breakdown of the death toll from each blast:

Year Location Country Deaths
2015 Tianjin China 165
2005 Ryongchon North Korea 160
2020 Beirut Lebanon 157*
2007 Monclova Mexico 57
2001 Toulouse France 30
2003 Saint-Romain-en-Jarez France 26
2004 Mihăileşti Romania 18
2013 West United States 15
2004 Barracas Spain 2
2014 Wyandra Australia 0

*Note: death count in Beirut as of Aug 6, 2020. Casualty count expected to increase as more information comes available.

One of the deadliest explosions happened in Tianjin, China in 2015. A factory was storing flammable chemicals with ammonium nitrate, and because they weren’t being stored properly, one of the chemicals got too dry and caught fire. The blast killed 165 people and caused $1.1 billion dollars in damage.

In 2001, 14 years before the explosion in Tianjin, a factory exploded in Toulouse, France. The accident killed 30 people and injured 2,500. The power of the blast was equivalent to 20 to 40 tons of TNT, meaning that 40 to 80 tons of ammonium nitrate would have ignited.

In addition to factory explosions, there have been several transportation accidents involving ammonium nitrate. In 2007, a truck in Mexico blew up and killed over 57 people. Filled with explosives, the truck crashed into a pickup, caught fire, and detonated. The blast left a 60-foot long crater in its wake.

The Aftermath

While there have been several ammonium nitrate accidents throughout history, the recent tragedy in Beirut is one of the largest accidental explosions ever recorded, with 157 deaths and 5,000 injuries and counting.

In terms of TNT equivalent, a measure used to gauge the impact of an explosion, it ranks in the top 10 of the largest accidental explosions in history:

Topping the list is yet another ammonium nitrate explosion, this time back in 1947.

Known to history as the Texas City Disaster, the port accident was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions to occur in history. The explosion killed over 500 people and injured thousands. The impact from the blast was so intense, it created a 15-foot wave that crashed along the docks and caused flooding in the area.

A Resource With Trade-Offs

Despite being dangerous, ammonium nitrate is still a valuable resource. There’s been an increased demand for the chemical from North America’s agricultural sector, and because of this, ammonium nitrate’s market size is expected to see an increase of more than 3% by 2026.

Because of its increasing market size, it’s more important than ever for trade industries to enforce proper safety measures when storing and transporting ammonium nitrate. When safety regulations aren’t followed, accidents can happen—and as we saw this week, the aftermath can be devastating.

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Ranked: The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

Best and Worst Pension Plans by Country

Ranked: Countries with the Best and Worst Pension Plans

The global population is aging—by 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65.

As our aging population nears retirement and gets closer to cashing in their pensions, countries need to ensure their pension systems can withstand the extra strain.

This graphic uses data from the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) to showcase which countries are best equipped to support their older citizens, and which ones aren’t.

The Breakdown

Each country’s pension system has been shaped by its own economic and historical context. This makes it difficult to draw precise comparisons between countries—yet there are certain universal elements that typically lead to adequate and stable support for older citizens.

MMGPI organized these universal elements into three sub-indexes:

  • Adequacy: The base-level of income, as well as the design of a region’s private pension system.
  • Sustainability: The state pension age, the level of advanced funding from government, and the level of government debt.
  • Integrity: Regulations and governance put in place to protect plan members.

These three measures were used to rank the pension system of 37 different countries, representing over 63% of the world’s population.

Here’s how each country ranked:

Country Overall Value Adequacy Sustainability Integrity
Argentina 39.5 43.1 31.9 44.4
Australia 75.3 70.3 73.5 85.7
Austria 53.9 68.2 22.9 74.4
Brazil 55.9 71.8 27.7 69.8
Canada 69.2 70 61.8 78.2
Chile 68.7 59.4 71.7 79.2
China 48.7 60.5 36.7 46.5
Colombia 58.4 61.4 46 70.8
Denmark 80.3 77.5 82 82.2
Finland 73.6 73.2 60.7 92.3
France 60.2 79.1 41 56.8
Germany 66.1 78.3 44.9 76.4
Hong Kong 61.9 54.5 54.5 86.9
India 45.8 39.9 44.9 56.3
Indonesia 52.2 46.7 47.6 67.5
Ireland 67.3 81.5 44.6 76.3
Italy 52.2 67.4 19 74.5
Japan 48.3 54.6 32.2 60.8
Korea 49.8 47.5 52.6 49.6
Malaysia 60.6 50.5 60.5 76.9
Mexico 45.3 37.5 57.1 41.3
Netherlands 81 78.5 78.3 88.9
New Zealand 70.1 70.9 61.5 80.7
Norway 71.2 71.6 56.8 90.6
Peru 58.5 60 52.4 64.7
Philippines 43.7 39 55.5 34.7
Poland 57.4 62.5 45.3 66
Saudi Arabia 57.1 59.6 50.5 62.2
Singapore 70.8 73.8 59.7 81.4
South Africa 52.6 42.3 46 78.4
Spain 54.7 70 26.9 69.1
Sweden 72.3 67.5 72 80.2
Switzerland 66.7 57.6 65.4 83
Thailand 39.4 35.8 38.8 46.1
Turkey 42.2 42.6 27.1 62.8
UK 64.4 60 55.3 84
U.S. 60.6 58.8 62.9 60.4

The Importance of Sustainability

While all three sub-indexes are important to consider when ranking a country’s pension system, sustainability is particularly significant in the modern context. This is because our global population is increasingly skewing older, meaning an influx of people will soon be cashing in their retirement funds. As a consequence, countries need to ensure their pension systems are sustainable over the long-term.

There are several factors that affect a pension system’s sustainability, including a region’s private pension system, the state pension age, and the balance between workers and retirees.

The country with the most sustainable pension system is Denmark. Not only does the country have a strong basic pension plan—it also has a mandatory occupational scheme, which means employers are obligated by law to provide pension plans for their employees.

Adequacy versus Sustainability

Several countries scored high on adequacy but ranked low when it came to sustainability. Here’s a comparison of both measures, and how each country scored:

Ireland took first place for adequacy, but scored relatively low on the sustainability front at 27th place. This can be partly explained by Ireland’s low level of occupational coverage. The country also has a rapidly aging population, which skews the ratio of workers to retirees. By 2050, Ireland’s worker to retiree ratio is estimated to go from 5:1 to 2:1.

Similar to Ireland, Spain ranks high in adequacy but places extremely low in sustainability.

There are several possible explanations for this—while occupational pension schemes exist, they are optional and participation is low. Spain also has a low fertility rate, which means their worker-to-retiree ratio is expected to decrease.

Steps Towards a Better System

All countries have room for improvement—even the highest-ranking ones. Some general recommendations from MMGPI on how to build a better pension system include:

Animated Map: The History of U.S. Counties


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

Animated Video: The History of U.S Counties

Did you know that there are 3,142 different counties in the U.S. today?

Going as far back as the 1600s, English settlers arriving in the New World envisioned counties as a means of accessible government—a county seat was meant to be within a day’s buggy ride for every citizen.

While the role of counties in local government has remained significant in modern times, their boundaries have changed drastically over the years.

This animated map by Alexander Varlamov visualizes the history of U.S. county borders, and how these jurisdictions have evolved over time.

County Equivalents

Before diving in, it’s important to note a few county-equivalents that function similarly but go by different names:

  • Boroughs/Census areas: Alaska is made up of 19 boroughs, but the majority of its landmass is not included in them. Rather, it’s officially labeled by the Alaskan government as the unorganized borough.
  • Parishes: Instead of counties, Louisiana uses the term parishes because of its French and Catholic heritage.
  • Independent cities: These are cities that operate outside their surrounding county’s jurisdiction. There are 41 independent cities in the U.S. and 38 of them are in Virginia.

Over 300 Years of Growth

The number of counties in the U.S. has increased dramatically since the early days of American history. Here’s a look at their growth since 1790:

Year Number of Counties and Parishes
1790 292
1850 1621
1870 2247
1900 2713
1920 3041

The first county was established in 1634, over 100 years before the first Census was taken (and long before America gained independence). It was created in James City, Virginia—an interesting location, considering Virginia now has the highest concentration of independent cities.

Why does Virginia have so many independent cities? The state’s separation of counties and cities dates back to the early 1700s. With a rural population and low productivity, it was difficult to establish town centers. After several attempts, the General Assembly gave up. Independent cities were established instead.

Short-lived Counties

Counties as a political organization have been around for hundreds of years, but some individual counties haven’t lasted long.

For instance, Bullfrog County in Nevada was established in 1987 and dissolved just two years later. During its brief existence, it had no population and no infrastructure—and its primary purpose was simply to prevent Yucca Mountain from becoming a nuclear waste dump.

While Bullfrog County has since been dissolved, the controversy around the nuclear waste site is ongoing as of 2020.

Continual Change

The latest official county, Broomfield Country, was established in Colorado in 2001.

Although it’s been decades since the last county was created, there have been continual boundary changes and status updates—sometimes for political reasons. For instance, the Supreme Court recently ruled that half of Oklahoma is within a Native American reservation. While this doesn’t necessarily change ownership, it does affect jurisdiction and county authority.

Though the lines on the map are more or less static now, the invisible lines of county jurisdiction will continue to change and evolve over time.

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Animated Map: What America Searched for on Google, Over the Last Decade


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

What America Searched for on Google, in the Last Decade

Cultural shifts come in many shapes and forms, and some are harder to measure than others.

Thankfully, Google search volume provides an easy avenue for measuring large-scale cultural trends. And because Google makes up more than 90% of all internet searches in the U.S., looking at what’s trending on Google is a great way to understand the shifting questions and interests that are captivating society at any given time.

This animated map by V1 Analytics provides an overview of the top trending Google searches in every state over the last decade. It sheds light on what types of new information, events, and stories received the most attention in the last ten years—and more generally, it shows us what the U.S. population has been thinking about.

Trending Searches versus Top Searches

Before diving into the top trends of the decade, it’s worth taking a moment to distinguish between “trending searches” and “top searches”:

  • Trending Searches: Keywords that had the largest increase in traffic, in a specific period of time
  • Top Searches: The most searched keywords in a given time frame

This video would look a lot different, and a lot less interesting, if it showed Google’s top searches. To give some perspective, here are the Top 10 Searches in the U.S. (as of 2020):

Rank Keyword
#1 facebook
#2 youtube
#3 amazon
#4 gmail
#5 google
#6 weather
#7 ebay
#8 yahoo
#9 walmart
#10 yahoo mail

Understanding the difference between trending searches and top searches is important because it gives us insight into why certain keywords trend in some places, but not others. For instance, in March 2020, the word “coronavirus” was trending throughout a majority of the U.S., with a few exceptions—it wasn’t trending in Massachusetts, California, Texas, Nevada, or Arizona.

It’s easy to make the assumption that people in these states were not concerned about COVID-19—however, that’s not necessarily the case.

It’s important to remember that trending searches are measured by the increase of traffic, not just the overall amount of searches. Therefore, in states where it wasn’t trending, the word “coronavirus” may have already been a popular search term for a while, so the keyword didn’t see a sudden spike in interest like it did in other places.

Undivided Attention

In the last decade, there were moments when the entire country was googling the same thing. Some keyword trends lasted a day, while others lasted over a week.

Here’s a look at keywords that took over the whole U.S, and when they were trending unanimously:

Date Range Category Search Term
Feb 4, 2011 Music Adele
Feb 6 – Feb 23, 2011 Music Born This Way
Feb 28, 2011 Music Born This Way
March 22 – Apr 1, 2011 Pop Culture Rebecca Black
June 12 – June 27, 2011 TV & Film Game of Thrones
Nov 9, 2012 Current Events Abortion
Jan 10 – Jan 27, 2014 TV & Film Frozen
Feb 28 – March 2, 2014 Electronics Samsung Galaxy s5
Jan 11 – Jan 13, 2015 Music Blank Space
Feb 26 – Mar 30, 2015 Music Uptown Funk
June 5, 2015 Pop Culture Caitlyn Jenner
June 16 – June 19, 2015 TV & Film Jurassic World
Feb 26, 2016 Pop Culture Damn Daniel
June 3, 2016 Pop Culture Harambe
June 20, 2016 TV & Film Finding Dory
June 30, 2016 TV & Film Finding Dory
July 6, 2016 TV & Film Finding Dory
Aug 4 – Aug 7, 2016 TV & Film Suicide Squad
Aug 24 – Sept 8, 2016 Pop Culture Harambe
Sept 23 – Sept 26, 2016 Pop Culture Brad Pitt
Oct 21, 2016 Electronics Google Pixel
Nov 24, 2016 Electronics Google Pixel
Dec 14 – Dec 20, 2016 Current Events Aleppo
Jan 7 – Jan 10, 2017 TV & Film This Is Us
Jan 23 – Feb 2, 2017 TV & Film This Is Us
Feb 8 – Feb 12, 2017 Sports Super bowl
Feb 22 – Feb 24, 2017 TV & Film This Is Us
March 7 – March 11, 2017 Electronics Nintendo Switch
March 21 – Apr 1, 2017 TV & Film Beauty and the Beast
May 7 – May 16, 2017 Pop Culture Fidget Spinner
June 17 – July 18, 2017 Music Despacito
Sept 22, 2017 TV & Film It
Oct 13, 2017 Current Events Harvey Weinstein
Nov 3, 2017 Current Events Kevin Spacey
Jan 12 – Jan 23, 2018 Current Events Logan Paul
Feb 6 – Feb 11, 2018 TV & Film Altered Carbon
March 15 – March 29, 2018 Video Games Fortnite
May 4, 2018 Video Games Fortnite
July 21, 2018 Video Games Fortnite
Aug 5 – Aug 22, 2018 Video Games Fortnite
Jan 17 – Feb 3, 2019 Music 7 Rings
Feb 21 – Feb 23, 2019 Current Events Jussie Smollett
March 12 – March 22, 2019 TV & Film Captain Marvel
March 27, 2019 Music Billie Eilish
March 30, 2019 Music Billie Eilish
Aug 24 – Aug 27, 2019 Music Billie Eilish
Oct 9 – Oct 29, 2019 TV & Film Joker
Nov 20 – Nov 24, 2019 TV & Film The Mandalorian
Dec 5 – Dec 14, 2019 Pop Culture Baby Yoda
Jan 15, 2020 Current Events Prince Harry
Jan 20, 2020 Current Events Prince Harry
Feb 13 – Feb 15, 2020 TV & Film Jojo Rabbit
May 5 – May 14, 2020 Current Events Elon Musk
June 24, 2020 Current Events Bubba Wallace

It’s interesting to look at the variety of topics that dominate the population’s collective thoughts. There’s a unique mix of popular culture, entertainment, electronics, prominent figures, and public scandals.

Something else worth noting is how country-wide trends became a lot more common in the latter part of the decade—in 2019 for example, 9 keywords trended unanimously. This was more than in the entire first half of the decade.

While the secret to going viral remains a mystery, one thing remains clear—the public certainly has a broad range of interests. So really, it’s anyone’s game.

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Ranked: The 50 Most Innovative Companies


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

The 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2020

Ranked: the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2020

Corporate longevity is on the decline. In the 1960s, a typical S&P 500 company was estimated to last more than 60 years—these days, the average lifespan is just 18 years.

In today’s fast-paced world, companies need to stay relevant in order to survive. Because of this, it’s become increasingly more important for businesses to prioritize innovation.

This chart looks at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2020, based on a survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The companies have been ranked based on four variables:

  • Global “Mindshare”: The number of votes from all innovation executives.
  • Industry Peer Review: The number of votes from executives in a company’s industry.
  • Industry Disruption: A diversity index to measure votes across industries.
  • Value Creation: Total share return.

Breakdown of the Leaderboard

BCG has been ranking the most innovative companies since 2005. Here’s a look at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2020:

Rank Company Industry HQ Change from 2019
1 Apple Technology U.S. 2
2 Alphabet Technology U.S. -1
3 Amazon Consumer Goods U.S. -1
4 Microsoft Technology U.S.
5 Samsung Technology South Korea
6 Huawei Technology China 42
7 Alibaba Consumer Goods China 16
8 IBM Technology U.S. -1
9 Sony Consumer Goods Japan return
10 Facebook Technology U.S. -2
11 Tesla Transportation & Energy U.S. -2
12 Cisco Systems Technology U.S. 5
13 Walmart Consumer Goods U.S. 29
14 Tencent Other China return
15 HP Inc. Technology U.S. 29
16 Nike Consumer Goods U.S. return
17 Netflix Other U.S. -11
18 LG Electronics Consumer Goods South Korea
19 Intel Technology U.S. return
20 Dell Technology U.S. 21
21 Siemens Other Germany -5
22 Target Consumer Goods U.S. return
23 Philips Pharmaceuticals & Medtech Netherlands 6
24 Xiaomi Technology China return
25 Oracle Technology U.S. return
26 Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals & Medtech U.S. -12
27 SAP Technology Germany 1
28 Adidas Consumer Goods Germany -18
29 Hitachi Technology Japan return
30 Costco Consumer Goods U.S. return
31 JD.com Consumer Goods China new
32 Volkswagen Transportation & Energy Germany 6
33 Bosch Transportation & Energy Germany new
34 Airbus Transportation & Energy Netherlands return
35 Salesforce Technology U.S. -2
36 JPMorgan Chase Other U.S. -16
37 Uber Technology U.S. return
38 Bayer Pharmaceuticals & Medtech Germany -14
39 Procter & Gamble Consumer Goods U.S. return
40 Royal Dutch Shell Transportation & Energy Netherlands -10
41 Toyota Transportation & Energy Japan -4
42 Nestle Consumer Goods Switzerland return
43 ABB Other Switzerland new
44 3M Other U.S. -5
45 Unilever Consumer Goods U.K. -13
46 FCA Transportation & Energy U.K. new
47 Novartis Pharmaceuticals & Medtech Switzerland new
48 Coca-Cola Consumer Goods U.S. return
49 Volvo Transportation & Energy Sweden new
50 McDonald’s Consumer Goods U.S. -29

When you think about innovative companies, Walmart might not be top of mind. However, the retail giant has moved up to the 13th spot on the list, an increase of 29 places since 2019.

Walmart has put significant efforts into its e-commerce and omnichannel offerings. For instance, the company launched NextDay Delivery in 2020, and now offers one-day delivery to a majority of the U.S. population. The company also has a stake in the Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com, which has grown from 5% to 12%.

Costco makes it to 30th place this year, and the company is known for its effective use of data. Thanks to the company’s members-only model, it has been able to compile a ton of information on its customers. It uses this data not only for marketing purposes, but to help streamline processes like recall notices. Costco also uses data monitoring sensors in its warehouses to save money on water usage and to spot any potential leaks before they happen.

Another company worth touching on is Huawei—the Chinese tech company has taken the 6th spot, a 42 rank increase since 2019. This rise in the ranks is likely due to the company’s significant $19 billion investment in research and development (R&D) in 2019. These types of investments seem to be paying off, as Huawei sold more smartphones in 2019 than Apple.

Innovation Leaders Come in All Sizes

While people may picture startups when they think of innovation and adaptability, big firms aren’t lagging far behind when it comes to innovation output.

In this context, firms with new product sales above their industry median are considered “innovation leaders.” Although 52% of small firms are considered innovation leaders, 43% of large firms still find themselves in the same boat.

Small vs. big firms innovation leaders

In fact, because larger firms generally have more access to resources and manpower than smaller firms, they often have an advantage when it comes to research and development and the creation of innovation-focused programs.

Investing in innovation shows a far greater payoff down the line—firms that invested 1.4x more in innovation input saw 4x the amount of new products sales.

Innovation investment pays off

Innovation as a Lifestyle

Unless you’re in a startup that’s hoping to get acquired by a larger firm, innovation can’t be a one-hit-wonder. Yet, despite its importance, innovation over the long term is hard to maintain.

There have only been 8 companies that have appeared on the list every year. Here’s a look at the companies that have consistently made the cut since 2005:

These companies are serial innovators, and have managed to create innovation systems to perpetually foster creativity and agility. It’s an intentional, laborious process—but when done right, the payoff can be huge.

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Charting the Massive Scale of the Digital Cloud


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

View the full-size version of this infographic.

The Scale of the Digital Cloud

Charting the Massive Scale of the Digital Cloud

View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

Cloud computing continues to be on the rise, and for good reason. It’s transformed our digital experience in numerous ways, from how we store data to the way we share information online with others.

Growth in cloud services is showing no signs of slowing down, particularly in the data storage realm—by 2025, almost half of the world’s stored data will reside in public cloud environments. Yet, despite its increasing popularity among consumers and businesses alike, do people really understand what the cloud fully entails? Or better yet, what the cloud even is?

Today’s infographic from Raconteur provides an overview of the ever-evolving cloud computing landscape, showcasing the industry’s growth and its evolution in scale. It also touches on what’s next for the cloud.

What is Cloud Computing?

Put simply, cloud computing is a network of remote servers that provide customers with a number of offerings, including data storage, processing power, and apps. It’s usually delivered on a pay-per-use basis.

Cloud computing can be broken down into three categories:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Virtual computing services that businesses can utilize over the internet. IaaS allows businesses to scale up resources when needed, and pay for what they use. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services are both IaaS examples.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Like IaaS, PaaS utilizes remote infrastructure, but it includes an extra layer by offering tools that developers use to build apps. Examples of PaaS in action include the Google App Engine or OpenShift.
  • Software-as-a-Service (Saas): The delivery of apps through remote servers. This is the type of cloud computing most users are familiar with. Examples include Dropbox and Google Apps.

Cloud computing has its obstacles, such as security and privacy risks. Yet, the cloud continues to entice consumers by offering a new level of accessibility to their online experience.

This accessibility has also drastically changed the working world. The cloud allows users to access company servers from anywhere globally, and to share documents and information with colleagues quickly. Because of this, it’s become a key part of remote work.

IaaS: The Backbone of the Cloud

Cloud services are seeing significant growth, and the big tech companies are its backbone.

In fact, four major players combine to dominate almost 60% of the cloud’s infrastructure. Here’s a look at the cloud market breakdown in 2019, and annual growth compared to 2018:

Service Provider 2019 Market Share Annual Growth
Amazon Web Services 32.3% +36.0%
Microsoft Azure 16.9% +63.9%
Google Cloud 5.8% +87.8%
Alibaba Cloud 4.9% +63.8%
Others 40.1% +23.3%

It’s no surprise that U.S. companies dominate the cloud service market since the country currently has the largest share of global cloud storage worldwide. Yet, the concentration of cloud storage is predicted to even out in the next few years—by 2025, the U.S. portion of public cloud storage will drop from 51% to 31%, while China’s will increase from just 6% to 13%.

What’s Next for the Cloud?

The cloud has changed the way we use the internet. It has influenced the way we share information, our ability to work remotely, and how we store our data.

And these services are much needed, as our use of data and the internet continues to scale up. By 2025, an average internet user will have around 4,909 data interactions per day, an increase from 1,426 in the year 2020.

At the same time, the scale of global datasphere is expected to be five times bigger in 2025 than it was in 2018, growing from 33 zettabytes to 175 zettabytes. Each zettabyte, by the way, is equal to 1 trillion gigabytes.

With data taking an ever more important role in our lives, the cloud will continue to play a pivotal role in business, technology, and society as a whole.

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Mapped: Each Region’s Median Age since 1950


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

Each region median age mapped

Mapped: Each Region’s Median Age Since 1950

Over the last 70 years, the global population has gotten older. Since 1950, the worldwide median age has gone from 25 years to 33 years.

Yet, despite an overall increase globally, not all regions have aged at the same rate. For instance, Europe’s median age has grown by 14 years, while Africa’s has only increased by 1 year.

Today’s animated map uses data from the UN Population Index to highlight the changes in median age over the last 70 years, and to visualize the differences between each region. We also explain why some regions skew older than others.

Factors that Affect a Region’s Median Age

Before diving into the numbers, it’s important to understand the key factors that influence a region’s median age:

  1. Fertility Rate
    The average number of children that women give birth to in their reproductive years. The higher the fertility rate, the younger a population skews. Since 1950, the global fertility rate has dropped by 50%.
  2. Mortality Rate
    The number of deaths in a particular region, usually associated with a certain demographic or period in time. For example, global child mortality (children who have died under five years of age) has been on the decline, which has contributed to an increase in the average life expectancy across the globe.
  3. Migration
    International migration may lower a region’s population since migrants are usually younger or working age. In 2019, there were 272 million migrants globally.

The Change in Median Age

As mentioned, not all regions are created equal. Here’s how much the median age has changed in each region since 1950:

The Highs

Regions that have seen the most growth and generally skew older are Latin America, followed by Europe and Asia.

Interestingly, Asia’s notable increase is largely influenced by Japan, which has the oldest population on the planet. The country has seen a significant increase in median age since 1950—it’s gone from 22 to 48 years in 2020. This can be explained by its considerably low fertility rate, which is 1.4 births per woman—that’s less than half the global average.

But why is Japan’s fertility rate so low? There are more women in the workforce than ever before, and they are too busy to take on the burden of running a household. Yet, while women are more prosperous than ever, the workforce in general has taken a hit.

Japan’s recession in the early 1990s led to an increase in temporary jobs, which has had lasting effects on the region’s workforce—in 2019, about 1 in 5 men were working contract jobs with little stability or job growth.

The Lows

In contrast to Asia’s growth, Africa has seen the lowest increase in median age. The region’s population skews young, with over 60% of its population under the age of 25.

Africa’s young population can be explained by its high birth rate of 4.4 births per woman. It also has a relatively low life expectancy, at 65 years for women and 61 years for men. To put things into perspective, the average life expectancy across the globe is 75 years for women and 70 years for men.

Another trend worth noting is Oceania’s relatively small growth. It’s interesting because the region’s fertility rate is almost on par with the global average, at 2.4 births per woman, and the average life expectancy doesn’t differ much from the norm either.

The most likely reason for Oceania’s stagnant growth in median age is its high proportion of migrants. In 2019, the country had 8.9 million international migrants, which is 21% of its overall population. In contrast, migrants only make up 10% of North America’s population.

Unique Challenges for Every Region

Age composition has significant impacts on a region’s labor force, health services, and economic productivity.

Regions with a relatively high median age face several challenges such as shrinking workforce, higher taxes, and increasing healthcare costs. On the other end of the spectrum, regions with a younger population face increased demand for educational services and a lack of employment opportunities.

As our population worldwide continues to grow and age, it’s important to bring attention to issues that impact our global community. World Population Day on July 11, 2020, was established by the UN to try and solve worldwide population issues.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s blueprint for a better future for all on a healthy planet. On World Population Day, we recognize that this mission is closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, aging, migration, and urbanization.”

– UN Secretary-General António Guterres

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Mapped: Each Region’s Median Age Since 1950


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

Each region median age mapped

Mapped: Each Region’s Median Age Since 1950

Over the last 70 years, the global population has gotten older. Since 1950, the worldwide median age has gone from 25 years to 33 years.

Yet, despite an overall increase globally, not all regions have aged at the same rate. For instance, Europe’s median age has grown by 14 years, while Africa’s has only increased by 1 year.

Today’s animated map uses data from the UN Population Index to highlight the changes in median age over the last 70 years, and to visualize the differences between each region. We also explain why some regions skew older than others.

Factors that Affect a Region’s Median Age

Before diving into the numbers, it’s important to understand the key factors that influence a region’s median age:

  1. Fertility Rate
    The average number of children that women give birth to in their reproductive years. The higher the fertility rate, the younger a population skews. Since 1950, the global fertility rate has dropped by 50%.
  2. Mortality Rate
    The number of deaths in a particular region, usually associated with a certain demographic or period in time. For example, global child mortality (children who have died under five years of age) has been on the decline, which has contributed to an increase in the average life expectancy across the globe.
  3. Migration
    International migration may lower a region’s population since migrants are usually younger or working age. In 2019, there were 272 million migrants globally.

The Change in Median Age

As mentioned, not all regions are created equal. Here’s how much the median age has changed in each region since 1950:

The Highs

Regions that have seen the most growth and generally skew older are Latin America, followed by Europe and Asia.

Interestingly, Asia’s notable increase is largely influenced by Japan, which has the oldest population on the planet. The country has seen a significant increase in median age since 1950—it’s gone from 22 to 48 years in 2020. This can be explained by its considerably low fertility rate, which is 1.4 births per woman—that’s less than half the global average.

But why is Japan’s fertility rate so low? There are more women in the workforce than ever before, and they are too busy to take on the burden of running a household. Yet, while women are more prosperous than ever, the workforce in general has taken a hit.

Japan’s recession in the early 1990s led to an increase in temporary jobs, which has had lasting effects on the region’s workforce—in 2019, about 1 in 5 men were working contract jobs with little stability or job growth.

The Lows

In contrast to Asia’s growth, Africa has seen the lowest increase in median age. The region’s population skews young, with over 60% of its population under the age of 25.

Africa’s young population can be explained by its high birth rate of 4.4 births per woman. It also has a relatively low life expectancy, at 65 years for women and 61 years for men. To put things into perspective, the average life expectancy across the globe is 75 years for women and 70 years for men.

Another trend worth noting is Oceania’s relatively small growth. It’s interesting because the region’s fertility rate is almost on par with the global average, at 2.4 births per woman, and the average life expectancy doesn’t differ much from the norm either.

The most likely reason for Oceania’s stagnant growth in median age is its high proportion of migrants. In 2019, the country had 8.9 million international migrants, which is 21% of its overall population. In contrast, migrants only make up 10% of North America’s population.

Unique Challenges for Every Region

Age composition has significant impacts on a region’s labor force, health services, and economic productivity.

Regions with a relatively high median age face several challenges such as shrinking workforce, higher taxes, and increasing healthcare costs. On the other end of the spectrum, regions with a younger population face increased demand for educational services and a lack of employment opportunities.

As our population worldwide continues to grow and age, it’s important to bring attention to issues that impact our global community. World Population Day on July 11, 2020, was established by the UN to try and solve worldwide population issues.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s blueprint for a better future for all on a healthy planet. On World Population Day, we recognize that this mission is closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, aging, migration, and urbanization.”

– UN Secretary-General António Guterres

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What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country?


This post is by Carmen Ang from Visual Capitalist

What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country?

What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country?

Billions of people around the world rely on their mobile phones every day.

Even in a saturated market, mobile networks have continued to expand their reach. In the last five years alone, almost one billion additional people have gained access to mobile data services.

Despite the growing prevalence of these networks worldwide, the cost of gaining access can vary greatly from country to country—particularly when it comes to the price of mobile data.

Today’s chart uses figures from Cable.co.uk to showcase the average cost of one gigabyte (GB) of mobile data in 155 different countries and jurisdictions. Despite the vast global reach of the mobile economy, it’s clear it still has a long way to go to reach true accessibility.

Discrepancies in Mobile Data Costs

Researchers have identified several key elements that help explain the cost variation for mobile data between countries:

  1. Existing infrastructure (or lack thereof): This might seem counterintuitive, but most mobile networks rely on a fixed-line connection. As a result, countries with existing infrastructure are able to offer mobile plans with more data, at a cheaper price. This is the case for India and Italy. Countries with minimal or no infrastructure rely on more costly connection alternatives like satellites, and the cost typically gets passed down to the consumer.
  2. Reliance on mobile data: When mobile data is the primary source of internet in a particular region, adoption can become nearly universal. This high demand typically leads to an increase in competing providers, which in turn lowers the cost. Kyrgyzstan is a good example of this.
  3. Low data consumption: Countries with poor infrastructure tend to use less data. With mobile plans that offer smaller data limits, the overall average cost per GB tends to skew higher. Countries like Malawi and Benin are examples of this phenomenon.
  4. Average income of consumer: Relatively wealthy nations tend to charge more for mobile services since the population can generally afford to pay more, and the cost of operating a network is higher. This is apparent in countries like Canada or Germany.

The Cheapest Countries for 1 GB of Data

Even among the cheapest countries for mobile data, the cost variation is significant. Here’s a look at the top five cheapest countries for 1 GB of data:

Overall Rank Country Average price of 1GB (USD)
1 🇮🇳 India
2 🇮🇱 Israel 11¢
3 🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan 21¢
4 🇮🇹 Italy 43¢
5 🇺🇦 Ukraine 46¢

India ranks the cheapest at $0.09 per GB, a 65% decrease in price compared to the country’s average cost in 2019.

Why is data so cheap in India? A significant factor is the country’s intense market competition, driven by Reliance Jio—a telecom company owned by Reliance Industries, one of the largest conglomerates in India. Reliance Jio launched in 2016, offering customers free trial periods and plans for less than a $1 a month. This forced other providers to drop their pricing, driving down the overall cost of data in the region.

Because these prices are likely unsustainable for the long term, India’s cheaper-than-usual prices may soon come to an end.

Another country worth highlighting is Kyrgyzstan, which ranks as the third cheapest at $0.21 per GB, ahead of Italy and Ukraine. This ranking is surprising, given the country’s minimal fixed-line infrastructure and large rural population. Researchers suspect the low cost is a result of Kyrgyzstan’s heavy reliance on mobile data as the population’s primary source of internet.

The Most Expensive Countries for 1 GB of Data

On the other end of the spectrum, here are the top five most expensive countries for one gigabyte of mobile data:

Overall Rank Country Average price of 1GB (USD)
155 🇲🇼 Malawi $27.41
154 🇧🇯 Benin $27.22
153 🇹🇩 Chad $23.33
152 🇾🇪 Yemen $15.98
151 🇧🇼 Botswana $13.87

A striking trend worth noting is that four out of five of the most expensive countries for mobile data are in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

A significant factor behind the high cost of data in SSA is its lack of infrastructure. With overburdened networks, the data bundles offered in the region are generally smaller. This drives up the average cost per GB when compared to countries with unlimited packages.

Another element that contributes to SSA’s high costs is its lack of market competition. In countries with multiple competing networks, such as Nigeria, the cost of data skews lower.

The Full Breakdown

The below table has a full list of all 155 countries and jurisdictions included in the data set. It helps demonstrate the stark contrast in the cost of mobile data between the most expensive and cheapest countries globally.

Rank Country Average price of 1GB (USD)
1 India
2 Israel 11¢
3 Kyrgyzstan 21¢
4 Italy 43¢
5 Ukraine 46¢
6 Kazakhstan 46¢
7 Somalia 50¢
8 Sri Lanka 51¢
9 Russian Federation 52¢
10 Vietnam 57¢
11 China 61¢
12 Sudan 63¢
13 Indonesia 64¢
14 Algeria 65¢
15 Australia 68¢
16 Pakistan 69¢
17 Poland 70¢
18 Bangladesh 70¢
19 Chile 71¢
20 Turkey 72¢
21 Tanzania 73¢
22 Dominican Republic 74¢
23 Mongolia 74¢
24 Iran 75¢
25 Kuwait 77¢
26 Myanmar 78¢
27 Denmark 80¢
28 France 81¢
29 Nepal 86¢
30 Belarus 89¢
31 Georgia 93¢
32 Ghana 94¢
33 Monaco 98¢
34 Western Sahara 99¢
35 Morocco 99¢
36 Brazil $1.01
37 Romania $1.03
38 Jordan $1.03
39 Kenya $1.05
40 Armenia $1.05
41 Austria $1.08
42 Egypt $1.09
43 Moldova $1.12
44 Malaysia $1.12
45 Thailand $1.23
46 Estonia $1.27
47 Uzbekistan $1.34
48 Ireland $1.36
49 Zambia $1.36
50 Tunisia $1.37
51 Nigeria $1.39
52 United Kingdom $1.39
53 Philippines $1.42
54 El Salvador $1.45
55 Argentina $1.45
56 Rwanda $1.48
57 Slovenia $1.48
58 Cambodia $1.50
59 Afghanistan $1.55
60 Uruguay $1.58
61 Serbia $1.60
62 Uganda $1.62
63 Nicaragua $1.71
64 Macedonia $1.75
65 Spain $1.81
66 Lithuania $1.85
67 Azerbaijan $1.86
68 Congo $1.94
69 Sweden $2.07
70 Guinea $2.08
71 Timor-Leste $2.08
72 Saudi Arabia $2.12
73 Burundi $2.12
74 Peru $2.13
75 Lesotho $2.13
76 Finland $2.14
77 Guatemala $2.17
78 Bulgaria $2.22
79 Bahrain $2.27
80 Paraguay $2.30
81 Ethiopia $2.44
82 Singapore $2.47
83 Burkina Faso $2.47
84 Croatia $2.48
85 Mauritius $2.48
86 Hong Kong $2.55
87 Haiti $2.74
88 Costa Rica $2.74
89 Cameroon $2.75
90 Albania $2.83
91 Netherlands $2.98
92 Bosnia and Herzegovina $3.04
93 Honduras $3.12
94 Côte d’Ivoire $3.20
95 Ecuador $3.24
96 Liberia $3.25
97 Palestine $3.26
98 Niger $3.30
99 Senegal $3.30
100 Mozambique $3.33
101 Colombia $3.46
102 Sierra Leone $3.69
103 United Arab Emirates $3.78
104 Latvia $3.79
105 Lebanon $3.82
106 Slovakia $3.84
107 Jamaica $3.88
108 Japan $3.91
109 Germany $4.06
110 Qatar $4.12
111 Guinea-Bissau $4.12
112 Mali $4.12
113 Lao PDR $4.16
114 Iraq $4.20
115 South Africa $4.30
116 Togo $4.50
117 Oman $4.58
118 Mauritania $4.63
119 Tajikistan $4.65
120 Libya $4.73
121 Mexico $4.77
122 Namibia $4.78
123 Belgium $4.88
124 Gabon $4.89
125 Portugal $4.97
126 Bolivia $5.09
127 Gambia $5.10
128 Norway $5.28
129 Angola $5.29
130 Hungary $5.32
131 Papua New Guinea $5.40
132 Taiwan $5.91
133 Trinidad and Tobago $5.92
134 New Zealand $6.06
135 Syria $6.55
136 Panama $6.69
137 Czech Republic $7.95
138 United States $8.00
139 Central African Republic $8.25
140 Switzerland $8.38
141 Madagascar $8.81
142 Puerto Rico $9.17
143 South Korea $10.94
144 Turkmenistan $11.44
145 Greece $12.06
146 Canada $12.55
147 Equatorial Guinea $12.78
148 Eswatini $13.31
149 Cuba $13.33
150 Cyprus $13.56
151 Botswana $13.87
152 Yemen $15.98
153 Chad $23.33
154 Benin $27.22
155 Malawi $27.41

Interestingly, the highest average cost is 30,000% more than the cheapest average price.

The Technology Gap

Will we reach a point of equal accessibility across the globe, or will the technology gap between countries continue to widen?

With 5G networks on the rise, just seven countries are expected to make up the majority of 5G related investments. Time will tell what this means for adoption worldwide.

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