GLOBAL: Only 5% of the world's languages are represented online and this constitutes an obstacle to internet take-up in emerging markets and an opportunity for brands that can address this failing.
A report from the UN this week highlighted the fact that more than half (57%) of the world's people remain offline, with billions in the developing world unable to take advantage of broadband internet connections.
The internet is accessible to only 35% in developing countries, while in the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) over 90% of people are without any kind of internet connectivity, the report said.
The lowest levels of internet access are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa: the internet is available to less than 2% of the populations in Guinea, Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea.
“We have reached a transition point in the growth of the internet," the report said.
Technical issues are clearly one issue hindering access for those living in remoter areas. But the UN also suggested that “overcoming the internet's language barriers will be a key determinant in helping drive demand for – and access to – internet services and content".
According to Marco Veremis, CEO Upstream, a mobile agency, consumers in growth markets such as Nigeria, Vietnam, India and Brazil prefer content in their local language.
“Brands looking to break into these markets can easily build trust with their target market simply by ensuring their content is available in local languages," he told Net Imperative.“A simple point but one which has so far been overlooked when offering digital services," he added.
At least 80% of all content on the internet is in one of ten languages, according to the World Bank: English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Arabic, French, Russian, and Korean.
Data sourced from UN, World Bank, Net Imperative; additional content by Warc staff