Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will visit India to talk about tackling barriers to Internet access at a conference in New Delhi next week, the social networking company said in a post on its website on Tuesday.
Separately, Zuckerberg will meet India’s social media-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss ways to improve Internet connectivity in India, Facebook said. Zuckerberg will be a keynote speaker at the conference, organized by Internet.org, which Facebook helped found last year to find ways to bring online some five billion people who don't have access to the Internet. India, which provides Facebook its second-largest user base, is an important market for the company and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg visited the country in July.
By 2013, about 2.7 billion people had access to the Internet and, of the remaining 60 percent of the world's population, only about 500 million and 900 million will have access to it by 2017, McKinsey and Co., a consultancy, said in a report on Tuesday.
The report titled “Offline and falling behind: Barriers to Internet adoption,” was the result of a study that McKinsey collaborated on with Facebook, to identify hurdles to getting Internet access in different countries.
“Between 3.8 billion and 4.2 billion people—more than half of the forecast global population—will remain offline in 2017,” McKinsey estimated in the report.
The report also introduces the “Internet Barriers Index,” a detailed study based on the combination and severity of the barriers facing 25 countries, and ranks those countries on how difficult it is to get Internet access.
India, with a score of 40 out of a possible maximum of 100, is in the bottom quartile of this ranking, alongside Egypt, Indonesia and others. A low score indicates high barriers and vice versa, according to the report. The countries with the most easy access to the Internet are the U.S., with a score of 94, followed by Germany and South Korea, both scoring 93, and Japan that scored 90 on this index.
While Facebook's web post did not mention the conference dates, a person familiar with the matter told International Business Times that the two-day event would begin Oct. 9 in the capital New Delhi. Zuckerberg is also expected to meet with other political leaders during his visit. In recent weeks, India has attracted some big names from the global technology industry, and Zuckerberg will follow the likes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in making a trip to the country.