Everyone should have access to the Internet. So concluded the 193 member states of the United Nations when they agreed on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. Underscoring the potential of the Internet to contribute to global development and empowerment, SDG target 9c calls for universal and affordable access in the world’s least developed countries by 2020.

Reaching this goal will require bold and immediate action. On our current trajectory, A4AI predicts that we’ll only hit this target in 2042 — 22 years after the target date set by the global community. Without urgent reform, in 2020 we will see just 16% of people in the world’s poorest countries, and 53% of the world as a whole, connected. We won’t just miss the target, we’ll miss by a mile. This connectivity lag will undermine global development across the board, contributing to lost opportunities for economic growth and denying hundreds of millions access to online education, health services, political voice, and much, much more.

Intended as a contribution to help leaders set us on a path to achieve this goal, the 2015-16 Affordability Report looks at the affordability environment across 51 countries, considers the effects of poverty and income inequality and takes a close look at gender inequality in access.

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