Beyond the Digital Divide: Language Factors, Resource Wealth, and Post-Communism in Mongolia

Beyond the Digital Divide: Language Factors, Resource Wealth, and Post-Communism in Mongolia

Undrah Buyan Baasanjav (Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3691-0.ch014
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This chapter explores the interplay between society and Internet technology in the context of the developing former socialist country of Mongolia. This chapter goes beyond questions of access to the Internet and explores three factors of the global digital divide. First, this chapter explores how language factors such as non-Roman domain names and the use of the Cyrillic alphabet exacerbate the digital divide in the impoverished country of Mongolia. ICANN's initiation of international domain names is an initial development toward achieving linguistic diversity on the Internet. Second, this chapter explores how post-communist settings and foreign investment and aid dependency afflict Internet development. A rapid economic growth in Mongolia has increased access to mobile phones, computers, and the Internet; however, the influx of foreign capital poured into the mining, construction, and telecommunication sectors frequently comes in non-concessional terms raising concerns over the public debt in Mongolia.
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The Case Study Of The Global Digital Divide: The Internet In Mongolia

The Mongolian case demonstrates challenges typical to developing countries with unexploited natural resources and also has similarities to other former socialist countries with a communist past. A mining boom in the last decade, which lured foreign investment into Mongolia, brought a GDP growth of 17% in 2011 (“Before the gold rush,” 2013, Feb 16). With a nomadic culture, a Buddhist tradition, and a communist past, Mongolia has a unique struggle with the digital divide. Mongolia is a Central Asian developing country landlocked between Russia and China with a small population of 2.7 million. Like many other developing countries, Mongolia has an emerging economy indicated by the GNI per capita of US$ 2,310. Internet use has grown steadily, yet only 16.4 individuals per 100 persons use the Internet in 2012 (ITU, 2013a).

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