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OPLIN 4cast #473: The Digital Divide still divides

Posted in 4cast

fenceWe occasionally still hear about a Digital Divide here in the United States, but it’s not mentioned nearly as often as it used to be. That doesn’t mean there is no longer a need to provide access to the Internet for those who are on the wrong side of the Divide, but it does mean that most people in the U.S. (sometimes thanks to their public library) can access the Internet one way or another. That’s not always the case elsewhere. The World Bank has just released a World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends that says 60% of the world’s population still has no access to the Internet. To them, this is a problem that involves much more than just technology.

  • Not all benefit from fast-spreading digital technologies: World Bank (The Nation)  “The benefits of rapid digital expansion have been skewed towards the wealthy, skilled, and influential around the world, who are better positioned to take advantage of the new technologies. In addition, though the number of internet users worldwide has more than tripled since 2005, four billion people still lack access to the internet, it added. ‘Digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government,’ said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. ‘We must continue to connect everyone and leave no one behind because the cost of lost opportunities is enormous. But for digital dividends to be widely shared among all parts of society, countries also need to improve their business climate, invest in people’s education and health, and promote good governance.’”
  • The Digital Divide: a challenge to overcome in tackling climate change (World Bank blogs | John Roome)  “No major technology has reached more people in such a short time but, unfortunately, there’s still a significant digital divide between the poor and the wealthy parts of the global population when it comes to Internet access. Perhaps not surprising that the same digital divide has an impact on the ability of developing countries to deal with the impact of climate change. According to our recently released Report, Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty, climate risk management requires data and knowledge. Connectivity is therefore a fundamental part of the equation for protecting poor people from climate change.”
  • Spread of internet has not conquered ‘digital divide’ between rich and poor – report (The Guardian | Larry Elliott)  “Digital technologies were spreading rapidly, but digital dividends – growth, jobs and services – had lagged behind. The Bank said the digital divide should be closed by making the internet universal, affordable, open and safe. It also said that delivering the development potential of new technology would require regulations to ensure competition among business, action to improve skills, and more accountable institutions.”
  • World Bank: Digital Divide leaving too many behind (InformationWeek | Thomas Claburn)  “For example, in Afghanistan and Niger, where 7 in 10 adults cannot read, literacy must precede connectivity. The digital transformation that has been reshaping commerce, social interaction, and governance since the Internet became a mass market medium in the 1990s ought to have changed the world for the better. For many, it has. But it hasn’t been enough to offset deeper problems. These include the declining rate of productivity growth around the globe, rising income inequality, and a decline in the percentage of free and fair elections around the world.”

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