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Active Internet consumers in rural India touch 299 million: Report

Digital adoption continues to be propelled by rural India – clocking a 13 percent growth to 299 million internet users, 31 percent of rural population, over the past year
Active Internet consumers in rural India touch 299 million: Report
Active Internet consumers in rural India touch 299 million (Representational Photo: Shutterstock)

India is likely to have 900 million active Internet users by 2025 as against around 622 million as of 2020, registering a growth of about 45 percent in the next five years. Though the Internet penetration in urban is more than 2X that of rural, usership in rural has been growing at a faster rate on a year-on-year basis. While internet users grew by 4 percent in urban India — reaching 323 million users (67 percent of urban population) in 2020, digital adoption continues to be propelled by rural India – clocking a 13 percent growth to 299 million internet users (31 percent of rural population) over the past year, recently released IAMAI KantarICUBE 2020 Report has said.

This indicates that there’s a lot of headroom for growth in rural India and this would help in bridging the urban-rural digital divide. However, the growth rate of AIU (those who have accessed internet in the last one month) has progressively reduced over the years and is the lowest in the last four years.

It also finds that nine out of 10 active internet users access internet every day; on an average, they spend around 107 minutes (1.8 hours) actively on the internet daily. Though the proportion of daily users is marginally higher in urban India as compared to rural India, AIU in urban India is spending 17 percent more time as compared to rural India.

One the occasion of the releasing the report recently, Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, Executive Vice President, Insights Division, Kantar, said, said, “By 2025, there would be greater number of internet users in rural India than in urban India. Given this, the digital eco system will need to evolve to address the specific needs of this emerging demography. Vernacular, Voice and Video will emerge as the game changers for the digital ecosystem over the next few years.”

Small towns account for almost two out of five active internet users while the top nine metros account to 33 percent of the active users in urban India. The report suggests, of 1,433 million population in India, 622 million individuals are AIU and this translates to about 43 percent of the total population (across urban and rural India). However, with a sizable population not accessing internet actively in rural India, there is a huge headroom for growth in the next few years.

Interestingly, the proportion of male to female AIU remains almost the same in rural and urban India. In urban India, the ratio between male to female Internet users is around 57:43 while in rural India, the ratio between male to female Internet users is 58:42.

Mobile continues to remain the device of choice for accessing internet in both urban and rural. Given the affordability of mobile devices along with the availability of cheaper data plans, accessing Internet through a mobile device has clearly become the first choice, finds the report.

Digital services have assumed great importance for India with the government actively promoting a vision of $1 trillion digital economy. Also, it has become a lifeline to most of us amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost every decision achieves execution with the able interference and assistance of the internet. Coronavirus has made us acutely realise the importance of internet. Digitisation helped businesses tide through the tough lockdowns, individuals connected with each other, used the opportunity to learn and acquire new skills and provided much needed meaning and reason to carry on.

Read more: Unnati collaborates with Satyukt to offer farming solutions through satellite technology

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The Changing Face of Rural India