Deconstructing the ‘Digital Divide’ In Africa

Deconstructing the ‘Digital Divide’ In Africa

Stephen Mutula (University of Botswana, Botswana, & University of Zululand, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0882-5.ch707
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The debate about whether the digital divide between Africa and the developed world is narrowing or widening has intensified over the last five years. Some believe that access to technology is positively correlated to economic development and wealth creation, however, since the dawn of the last century, the gap between the rich and the poor within and between developed and developing countries has continued to grow. The protagonists in this debate do not seem to appreciate the notion that the digital divide is not about a single technology, and is driven by a complex set of factors that exist beyond wires. This paper attempts to deconstruct the concept of the digital divide beyond access to PCs, telephones, Internet, cable TV, etc… The authors argue that the phenomenon as currently conceived is misleading and flawed, and so are the indices for its measurement. Suggestions that a new model for mapping the phenomenon is made in order to bridge the divide between developed and developing countries. In deconstructing the digital divide, the authors use the Declaration of Principles of the World Summit on Information Society and the indices used to measure e-readiness, information society, digital opportunity, and e-government.

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