Rural India Drives Internet Growth in India, Digital Divide Remains

Digital entertainment, digital communications, and social media were found to be the most popular services in India, with social media platforms seeing a staggering 51% YoY growth in social commerce. Digital payments also saw a significant increase, with an estimated 338 million users in 2022, of which 36% were from rural India. Further, 99% of all digital payment users were UPI users.

Highlights

  • 52% of India's population or 759 million people, accessed the Internet at least once a month in 2022.
  • The report highlighted that out of 759 million active internet users in India, 399 million were from rural India.
  • Overall, the report highlights the changing landscape of internet usage in India.

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Rural India

According to the 'Internet in India Report 2022' published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar, 52% of India's population or 759 million people, accessed the Internet at least once a month in 2022. The report highlighted that out of 759 million active internet users in India, 399 million were from rural India, indicating that rural India continues to drive the growth of the internet in the country. However, the report also underlined the digital divide, with states such as Bihar having less than half the level of internet penetration than the leading state Goa.




The report estimated that 56% of all new internet users in India will be from rural India by 2025, with urban India witnessing only 6% growth in 2022. The gender divide was also addressed, with 57% of all new users in 2022 being females. It is estimated that by 2025, 65% of all new users will be women.

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Digital entertainment, digital communications, and social media were found to be the most popular services in India, with social media platforms seeing a staggering 51% YoY growth in social commerce. Digital payments also saw a significant increase, with an estimated 338 million users in 2022, of which 36% were from rural India. Further, 99% of all digital payment users were UPI users.

While the report suggests that digital penetration has improved not only in terms of spread but also in terms of depth, the digital divide remains a concern in India. However, with the rise of internet usage in rural India and the correction of the gender divide, the future looks bright for internet growth in the country.

Overall, the report highlights the changing landscape of internet usage in India and the need for continued efforts to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas. Telcos are already investing in the rural markets to push digitalisation in India.

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