Digital Divide

The Broadband Commission’s “Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide” is now available online. Our CEO, Helani Galpaya, consulted as an external expert to the commission on this document. The report highlights the need for urgent action to bridge the digital gender divide, and makes broad recommendations to governments/policy-makers, the private sector, NGOs, IGOs and the academia, in the following areas: Collecting and understanding the kind of data that reflects gender disparities in internet and broadband access as well as use Involving women and other relevant communities in the process of developing digital strategies, policies, plans and budget Addressing the digital gender divide in terms of key barriers including problems with accessibility, affordability, safety of use, digital skills and relevance of content Enhancing cooperation between stakeholders to share good practice and lessons Read the full report here. See more of our work on the digital divide here.
It is quite intriguing how often moderators and many panelists default to a position that advocates government action and subsidies at the sessions I have heard so far. The evidence is clear on what worked and what did not with regard to first generation connectivity. Government supply failed. Government subsidies were not disbursed for the most part. The Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank was critical of the universal service initiatives supported and funded by the World Bank over 10 years.
Technology is a catalyst, not an element, of increasing productivity. The desire of improvement is central to all successes, where technology accelerates the rate of achievement. Bangladesh government can truly claim the credit of dramatically improving the child and maternal mortality rates through an efficiently run nationwide scheme of immunization. Political goodwill has been the driver of this success. One physician, Dr.
Something to think about. Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it had 1 billion active users. Of that, 81 percent were said to be outside the US and Canada. The top-five countries in ranked order at this time are US; Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico. Last year, there were lots of reports about Facebook building a server farm in Northern Sweden.
In his paper, author Martin Hilbert presents a conceptual framework to classify the different definitions of the digital divide by using the theory on diffusion of innovation. The author equates the diffusion of ICT to the diffusion of Innovation which is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time among the members of a social network. Figure 1 is an illustration of the diffusion of innovation.  The growth in adoption starts slowly at first and then accelerates toward the middle of the process and gradually tapers off as the number of non-adopters shrink. The exact curve depends the characteristics of the nodes of the social network.