The presence of the digital divide due to poor infrastructure as well as lack of skilled personal undermines economic and social growth in various aspects of society. This is because only a limited number of people have access to technology while other people struggle on the bare edge of survival. Therefore, the absence of information makes it difficult for developing countries to share valuable information with their loved ones as well as their business partners globally.
The digital divide which is a gap between people or communities that have access to Information Communication Technologies systems (ICTs) and those that do not have continues to be a challenge in Africa. The gap is not only determined by the lack of Internet facilities but also technologies that society can use to revolutionise their lives.
There are various causes of the digital divide that range from differences in income as well as low literacy levels. People with low income have less access to the Internet because of other responsibilities such as providing food, shelter clothing for their families. In countries with high levels of poverty and unemployment internet access is less likely to be their major concern. However, expanding computer availability as well as internet access in Africa would help increase access to broadband networks and thereby help reduce the digital divide.
Bridging the gap in Africa has been an on-going challenge for African governments for many years now. However, due to scarce resources, the governments have not made much progress as Internet access is only one aspect among other factors. The quality of connection and the availability of Information Communications Technologies access at affordable cost are among the most discussed issues by both African governments and their global partners.
Economic growth through the development of information infrastructure and active use would be considered a shortcut to economic growth for African countries because Information technologies tend to be associated with productivity. This is because latest technologies systems such as laptops, smart phones and camera may give industries certain competitive advantages. The idea that Information and communication technologies are vital to civic life is not new because the Internet and other ICTs play a role in transforming society, improving people’s mutual understanding and eliminating power differences.
Access to the Internet is a basic component of civil life that developed countries aim to guarantee for their citizens. Cell phones are often considered important for security purposes, health, criminal, and other forms of emergencies that might emerge. Furthermore, much of the information on people’s career and safety are increasingly provided via the Internet.
As technology becomes affordable and internet access becomes abundant the digital divide between rich and poor still remains. This is because the rich and educated have the financial capacities to access good digital resource well as advancements in technology. However, for the poor members of society with no source of income purchasing Internet Technology (IT) equipment is too expensive. Thus, the rich get richer due to their advantage of internet information and reaping the rewards of e-commerce and e-business, while the poorer members remain poorer.
In addition to this the digital divide also has an impact on education. For children coming from low-income homes and school districts, inadequate access to technology can hinder them from learning the tech skills that are crucial to success in today’s economy.The internet is growing at a significant rate and many companies are moving their activities onto the internet, and new businesses are being developed that operate purely on the internet. There is a vast amount of information available on the net and social networking sites allow friends and family to keep in touch.
Bridging the digital divide through providing the accessibility of internet in rural areas would be a test of the digital divide. This is because there are different ways to eliminate the digital divide such as the use of Power lines and satellite communications. These types of equipment’s provide possibilities of universal access to the Internet such that telephone lines will not limit access. Furthermore, lower access prices are also required to bridge the ICT divide in order to promote global access to the internet.
Telephone systems are also important elements such that governments implement policies to offer affordable telephone service although some countries lack sufficient telephone lines.