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Report: Internet use in Asia, Africa, and Mid-East set to soar

By Matthew Shaer / July 21, 2009

Workers haul part of a fibre optic cable onto the shore at the Kenyan port town of Mombasa on June 12. An undersea fiber optic cable bringing broadband Internet connectivity to East Africa, reached the Kenyan coast from the United Arab Emirates on Friday, the president said. A new study shows Middle Eastern and African countries will house millions of new web users over the next few years.

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And you thought Americans spent a lot of time surfing the Web.

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A new report from Forrester Research estimates that approximately 2.2 billion people will be online over the next few years – an increase of over 45 percent. Analysts at Forrester forecast that, by 2013, 43 percent of that 2.2 billion will be based in Asia, with 17 percent in China alone.

In 2008, the United States was home to the most Internet users, followed by China, Japan, Brazil, and Germany, Business Journal reports, quoting the Forrester research. By comparison, in 2013, China will be in first place, followed by the US, India, Japan, and Brazil.

“While per capita online spending is likely to remain highest in North America, Western Europe, and the developed markets of Asia throughout the next five years," Forrester Research Senior Analyst Zia Daniell Wigder wrote in a statement, "the shifting online population and growing spending power among Asian consumers means that Asian markets will represent a far greater percentage of the total in 2013 than they do today."

Forrester also predicted that Middle Eastern and African countries, which currently represent only 8 percent of the global online population, will have very high growth rates in coming years. In that region, Nigeria, Iran, and Egypt are expected to see the biggest increases.

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