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5 million persons in Ghana 15 years and older were offline during census

Five million persons 15 years and older were offline (defined by the International Telecommunications Union as not accessing the internet within a three-month period) in the three months preceding Census Night i.e. April to June 2021. This represents one in every four (25.2%) persons aged 15 years and older that did not use the internet.

These statistics emanate from the recently released 2021 Population and Housing Census Thematic Brief on Digital Exclusion. The report further indicates that more than half of the population 15 years and older did not use the internet in the Savannah (58.7%), North East (55.8%) and Northern (51.5%) regions which had the highest proportion of persons that were offline. All regions, except for Greater Accra, had more than 10.0% of this population group that did not use the internet within the three months.

Two in every 10 males (19.8%) did not use the internet compared to three in every ten females (30.3%) aged 15 years and older. Savannah (52.0%) is the only region where more than half of males were offline whereas there were five regions with more than half of females offline: Savannah (65.4%), North East (63.6%), Northern (60.6%), Upper West (56.6%) and Upper East (54.6%).

Four districts – North East Gonja (76.7%), Karaga (73.9%), Mion (73.3%), and Gushegu Municipal (72.5%) – had more than 70% of the population 15 years and older not accessing the internet within the preceding three months. The percentage of persons offline in these districts is over 17 times that of Ayawaso West Municipal (4.1%), the district with the lowest percent of its population offline. Four in every five (211 out of the 261) districts had more than 10,000 persons 15 years and older that were offline. The Tamale Metropolitan Area (76,164), Nanumba North Municipal (61,293), Sagnarigu

Four districts – North East Gonja (76.7%), Karaga (73.9%), Mion (73.3%), and Gushegu Municipal (72.5%) – had more than 70% of the population 15 years and older not accessing the internet within the preceding three months. The percentage of persons offline in these districts is over 17 times that of Ayawaso West Municipal (4.1%), the district with the lowest percent of its population offline. Four in every five (211 out of the 261) districts had more than 10,000 persons 15 years and older that were offline. The Tamale Metropolitan Area (76,164), Nanumba North Municipal (61,293), Sagnarigu Municipal (59,054), East Mamprusi Municipal (58,248) and Gushegu Municipal (56,152) had more than 50,000 persons that were offline.

Nationally, 4.9 million persons 15 years and older did not own a functional smartphone with almost twice as many females (3.0 million) not owning smartphones compared to males (1.8 million). The percent of the population that did not own smartphones was similar to the percent that was offline. One in every four (24.6%) persons, two in every 10 males (19.2%), and three in every 10 females (29.6%) 15 years and older did not own a functional smartphone.

Savannah (57.3%), North East (55.2%), and Northern (50.7%) regions had the highest percent of the population 15 years and older that did not own functional smartphones. In all, 40 districts had more than half of the population that did not own functional smartphones led by North East Gonja (76.0%) the only district where over three-quarters of the population did not own, Karaga (73.0%), Mion (72.3%) and Gushegu Municipal (71.8%).

The Ghana Statistical Service released these statistics on 2023 World Telecommunication and Information Day which is being commemorated under the theme “Empowering the least developed countries through information and communication technologies”. Further information on trends and patterns of internet usage is available in the 2021 PHC Thematic Brief on the Digital Exclusion in Ghana which can be downloaded from www.census2021.statsghana.gov.gh. Disaggregated statistics on ICT usage at the national, regional, and district levels are directly accessible from the Ghana Statistical Service StatsBank (https://statsbank.statsghana.gov.gh).

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