Opportunities, Challenges, and Digital Inclusion in Marginalized Societies

Opportunities, Challenges, and Digital Inclusion in Marginalized Societies

Wilfreda Indira Chawarura, Rukudzo Alyson Mawere
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3901-2.ch010
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The developments in digital technology and information communication technology (ICT) have increased over the past 20 years and improved livelihoods, especially in developed countries with 97% access level to the internet and digital technology. However, those in African countries have had challenges accessing the internet, and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation. The remote areas in Zimbabwe have not been spared as they experience challenges in the adoption of digital technology. Globally people are increasingly using information and communication technology (ICT) as a way of life to communicate, study, and access healthcare and entertainment, amongst other things. Investigating the causes of digital exclusion in general and also in the context of social exclusion in Zimbabwe is pertinent. This chapter seeks to fill a gap in the existing literature by exploring the opportunities and challenges that digital inclusion and exclusion bring to the marginalized societies in Zimbabwe.
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Digital exclusion affects countries, societies, and gender differences; for example, in marginalized communities, access to the internet and digital devices such as smartphones and computers is still a challenge (Watts, 2020). Ali et al., (2020) found a significant relationship between social exclusion and digital exclusion, people who are socially excluded tend to be digitally excluded. Social exclusion includes lack of education, low income, unemployment, gender and age (Fang et al., 2018). People living in rural areas with little or no income and old people have challenges in accessing digital technologies (Ali et al., 2020; Gunnlaugsson et al., 2020; Helsper et al., 2008; Magis-Weinberg et al., 2021).). However, single young people and those with higher educational outcomes were digitally engaged regardless of being members of marginalized communities (Helsper et al., 2008).

The 21st-century digital revolution has changed how societies interact, learn and conduct business. Digital inclusion has become imperative to support the well-being and livelihood of all societies in this digital age. Digital inclusion ensures that all communities and societies have access to technology and are equipped with knowledge on how to use digital technologies for everyday use (Rodriguez, et. al, 2022). Ye & Yang (2020) defined digital inclusion as the appropriate and meaningful use of digital technologies by all stakeholders in society to improve social and economic relations. Featherstone, (2015), cited in (Guenther, 2020), comprehensively concludes that when societies are given the basic, affordable technology and are allowed to participate in economic and social development, their lives are changed for the better in totality, represents digital inclusion. Therefore, digital inclusion is an effort to involve everyone in every society in the digital developments to allow them to be updated with any global changes and to improve their quality of life. This concept has increasingly become the topic of debate in many countries such as Australia and China (Fang et. al, 2019; Ye & Yang, 2020).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital inclusion: Engaging all communities and societies to have access and skills to use digital technologies.

Marginalized Communities: Societies or groups that are deprived or excluded from social and economic activities.

Digital Divide: The gap that is created between those who can access digital technologies and those who cannot.

Information Communication Technology: The use of electronic and digital devices such as smartphones, computers and laptops to share and store information.

Digital Redlining: Exclusion of broadband infrastructure in different communities with the most common being rural communities is prevalent in all countries regardless of economic status.

Digital Exclusion: Deprivation of digital technologies to some or selected communities.

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