IntroductCentury Since the turn of the 21st Century, the world has experienced numerous changes in regard to the way people communicate, interact, as well as receive and share information (James 100). This phenomenon has been caused by the invention of technology and the high rate of globalization. However, several years into the Century, people in various parts of the world are yet to experience technology or have limited access to it.
This kind of inequality in regard to issues relating to information and communication technology has created a digital divide across the world (Newell 30). According to experts, the concept of digital divide entails the inability of people to benefit from digital devices such as computers, lack of access to the internet, and digital illiteracy that involves a lack of training on the use of technology (Newell 42). Studies have established that the digital divide is a common phenomenon in developing countries and among people living with disabilities.
A study conducted in the United States indicated that over 50% of people living with disabilities do have access to a computer and reliable internet connection (Newell 43). Many people believe that the concept of the digital divide has been caused by the different economic situations across the world, whereby developed countries have better access to technology compared to the developing ones based on their financial ability to support digital transformation (James 109).
The efforts of the United Nations in regard to the digital divide
The concept of the digital divide is a social challenge that was brought into the limelight before the turn of the Century by various concerned parties that included scholars and advocacy groups (Newell 60). Their biggest concern was the inability of countries to exploit the benefits of technology at the same level, yet global bodies such as the United Nations (UN) advocated for equal opportunities for every country in order to achieve sustainable global development (Newell 79).
The UN has made a number of efforts in a bid to bridge the digital divide, especially among developing countries. Some of the recent efforts by the UN have focused on addressing the challenge in Asia. In 2013, the UN launched an interactive map of the information superhighway for the Asia-pacific region (Company 160). The initiative has been targeting policymakers and technology investors in the region, as they have a better chance of bridging the digital divide in the region.
Through the program, the UN aims to show influential players in the region’s technological industry all the missing links that can play a pivotal role in increasing the ability of people to access and use technology, as well as having digital literacy (Company 169). According to UN officials, the biggest motivation for launching the program in the region was the opportunity to address the numerous underlying causative factors of the digital divide.
The digital inequality in the region develops along with challenges such as lack of economic incentives, gender divide, weak education systems, and general lack of information in regard to technology (Company 178). This program will play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide due to increased connectivity. Experts believe that identifying technology gaps and addressing them on time will help to increase access to technology across the world.
The UN has so far helped in funding the laying of fiber-optic cables across the region (Company 182). This will lead to a reliable internet connection for everyone, as well as help in reducing the cost of an internet connection. Definitely, this program will help in reducing the digital divide in the region by a big margin within the next few years.
Companies of organizations whose focus is bridging the digital divide
The digital divide is one of the challenges that experts believe has slowed down development in most countries and societies across the world. Over the years, a number of organizations have focused their operations on bridging the digital divide. One of the organizations that have placed this challenge high on their agendas is called “Close the gap” (Jeffrey 200).
The multinational not for profit entity focuses on addressing the challenge of access to technology and digital devices by providing quality second-hand computers to developing countries. The computers they give to various educational, health, and community projects in those countries are often donated by companies across Europe and the United States (Jeffrey 210).
The computers are always cleaned and formatted according to the needs of the communities that receive them for their different uses. The organization identifies projects that help to improve people’s knowledge about technology and the various ways in which they can exploit its numerous benefits (Jeffrey 218).
According to the organization’s project coordinator, the reason they chose to donate computers to third world countries is that they have limited infrastructure, lack adequate information on technology, as well as economic challenges that make it hard for people to acquire technological equipment such as computers. Reports indicate that since 2003, the organization has supported more than two thousand projects with over 200,000 computers donated to them by various companies (Jeffrey 225).
This organization has played a crucial role in the achievement of the millennium development goals set by the UN. The timeline for achieving the goals ends in 2015, with “Closing the gap” has contributed a lot towards the advancement of the socio-economic welfare of numerous societies across the world. Indeed, the organization is bound to change the life of many communities over the next couple of years.
Bridging the digital divide in Nigeria
Nigeria is one of the developing countries that have made great efforts to bridge the challenge of the digital divide. Despite being one of the developing countries in the world, Nigeria has taken a number of steps to ensure that more people have access to the internet and can afford digital devices such as computers (James 191). Reports indicate that most people that live in urban areas have access to a reliable internet connection using their cell phones, personal computers, or internet labs.
However, the digital divide challenge is still deeply rooted in rural areas where challenges such as poor infrastructure, brain drain, and high level of illiteracy hinder technological revolution (James 197). Most people in rural Nigeria do not have access to telephones, while others have never seen a computer or ever heard of the internet.
However, numerous organizations, in partnership with the government, have started projects geared towards creating community internet labs where people can go and learn about various elements about technology (James 202). These projects have been started by Nigeria’s business community alongside their various partners from the United States and Europe. The government has also incorporated computer and technology studies in the country’s education system at every level (James 211).
The digital divide challenge is very prevalent in developing nations compared to the developed ones. Bridging the digital divide across the globe is very important because it plays a crucial role in promoting economic, social, and political development. Experts argue that access to technology has helped in the growth of democracy across the world. Therefore, it is important to create opportunities to access technology for millions of people across the world as it will help to improve the quality of life.
Compaine, Benjamin. The Digital Divide: Facing a Crisis or Creating a Myth? New Jersey: MIT Press, 2011. Print.
James, Jeffrey. Online Courses and ICT in Education: Emerging Practices and Applications. New York: IGI Global, 2010. Print.
Jeffrey, Soar. Intelligent Technologies for Bridging the Grey Digital Divide. California: Idea Group Inc, 2012. Print.
Newell, Alan. Design and the Digital Divide: Insights from 40 years in Computer Support for Older and Disabled People. San Francisco: Morgan & Claypool Publishers, 2011. Print.