W(h)ither the Digital Divide?
Type of work: Article (academic)
The "widening digital divide" has the status of fact in most discussions of the global distribution of information and communications technologies (ICTs), and that this divide is a problem is widely accepted. This paper challenges both assumptions. First, looking at various measures of the digital divide, there is a divide in per-capita access to ICTs but developing countries show faster rates of growth in network development than developed countries. Moreover, when employing a per-income measure of access, developing countries already "digitally leapfrog" the developed world.
Second, the paper examines the prediction that disparities in absolute access to ICTs between countries will lead to reduced development prospects in poor countries. Past experience has shown that it is very difficult to make predictions of this type. The paper concludes that we may be posing the wrong policy questions when focusing on a "digital divide" as it is commonly understood.