In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a software engineer at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, had an idea to connect scientists from all over the world. He wanted to create a series of automated information-sharing protocols – the world wide web.

Two years later, he published the world’s first web page. It might not have looked like much by today’s standards. But it was a pivotal moment.

Image: Statista

By the end of 1992, there were about 10 web pages. That grew to about 3,000 in 1994, after CERN publicly shared the software code behind the technology. The 20 years that followed saw the web become a worldwide phenomenon – and the number of websites surpass 1 billion.

Today, that number is 1.7 billion and rising, although only around 200 million of them are active.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about ensuring access to the internet for all?

In 2018, internet connectivity finally reached over half the world’s population. Yet some 3.4 billion people – about 50% of the world’s population – are still not online.

Although much progress has been made in closing this digital divide, the challenge remains overwhelming, complex and multidimensional. It requires a collaborative, multistakeholder approach to overcome four key barriers to internet inclusion: infrastructure; affordability; skills, awareness and cultural acceptance; and relevant content.

The World Economic Forum launched Internet for All in 2016 to provide a platform where leaders from government, private-sector, international organizations, non-profit organizations, academia and civil society could come together and develop models of public-private collaboration for internet inclusion globally.

Since its launch, Internet for All has achieved significant on-the-ground results globally - including launching four operational country programmes in Rwanda, South Africa, Argentina and Jordan.

Read more about our results, and ongoing efforts to ensure access to the internet for all in our impact story.

Contact us to partner with the Forum and shape the future of our digital economy.