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  • Writer's pictureTimothy Laku

Six factors contributing to the digital divide and why policy is urgently needed to close the gap.

On XFM this week, we looked at another area of digital inclusivity that is often ignored by policy makers and developmental partners.

Bridging the digital divide is as important as internet accessibility and affordability. We looked at some of the factors contributing to the growing digital divide and offered some recommendations.

Mr Skills and DJ Cisse contributing to the conversation at the XFM studios

Globally, about four billion people are still not connected to the internet. That's a big deal.

While Africa accounts for 15% of the world's population, only 6% of the World's Internet subscribers are Africans. According to a recent estimate, about 15% of the African population has Internet access. Africans who have access to broadband connections are estimated to be less than 1%

Accessibility and affordability are collectively contributing to the digital divide in Africa, along with weak policies and poor governance of digital programs at the grassroots.

What is this Digital Divide?

The digital divide is the difference in access to technology between nations, regions and based on demographic factors such as income, race and age.

When networks are faster and more reliable in urban areas versus rural areas -- that creates a digital divide. Fast broadband should also be made available in rural Africa.

When some urban schools are able to provide every student a laptop or tablet versus rural schools that can't -- that propagates the digital divide. Every school needs to empower their students with modern technology.

Nations or telecom companies that block a useful search engine such that people in that country have more difficulty discovering knowledge are propagating the digital divide. This needs to stop.

Likewise, access to computer science classes and after school clubs differ by nation, region and demographic factors such as income. We need to rethink "learning" in all our primary and secondary schools.

Schools need to go beyond just providing students with technology and start teaching students about internet safety and defensive computing.

In Summary

Here are the six factors that contribute to the digital divide that policy makers need to address comprehensively in order to bridge the digital divide in Africa:

  1. Economical

  2. Social

  3. Geographical

  4. Fear of Technology

  5. Lack of Motivation

  6. Cultural

Tune in to Digital Thursday on XFM 94.8 from 9 am to 10 am

Be part of the conversation on Twitter @timothylaku and follow the hashtags below #DigitalTransformation #XFM #DigitalThursday



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