We can all gain a lot from the digital world. It offers platforms that let us communicate and work together. It creates an opportunity for learning about new, significant topics and fosters innovation in previously unthinkable ways. Getting everyone online and bridging the digital divide calls for a multifaceted strategy. More is needed to offer reasonably priced broadband access and cost-effective computing equipment. To enable people to use the Internet and benefit from all that it has to offer, digital literacy training is equally important.
What Is the Digital Divide?
The digital gap, which affects 52% of women and 42% of men globally, is unequal access to the Internet and ICT. When we discuss geographies, the margin gets considerably bigger. According to data from World Stats, only 43.1% of Africans had access to the Internet as of December 2021, compared to 88.4% of Europeans and 93.4% of Americans.
The digital divide often exists between urban and rural dwellers, educated and uneducated people, members of different socioeconomic categories, and worldwide countries that are more and less industrially developing.
The digital gap can be seen even in communities with some access to technology, as seen by lower-performing PCs, slower wireless connections, cheaper internet connections like dial-up, and restricted access to subscription-based content.
The Digital Divide Can Be Bridged
People who believe closing the digital divide will increase digital literacy, digital skills, democracy, social mobility, economic equality, and economic growth are among those who support it. For instance, the annual observance of World Information Society Day by the United Nations has contributed to increasing public awareness of the worldwide digital gap. It also established the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force to close the global digital divide.
But it has yet to get any simpler to close the digital divide, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak. According to a 2020 McKinsey report, learning loss will only worsen since teachers and students increasingly use remote learning, and low-income families may need access to the proper equipment.
The advent of services like video on demand, video conferencing, and virtual classrooms, which need access to high-speed internet connections that many on the less-served side of the digital divide cannot access and pay, makes the reality of a separate-access marketplace difficult. To fight this, some charitable organizations have started giving low-income school districts and other internet-using communities laptops and access to the Internet.
Telecom Giants Are Joining the Fight
Dr. Hua Liang, Chairman of Huawei, announced the company’s Connectivity+: Innovate for Impact 2022 Sustainability Forum, which took place on November 23, 2022, in Shenzhen. Huawei has signed a global commitment to join the Partner2Connect digital alliance, which was established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The tech giant plans to close the digital divide by 2025 by providing connectivity to around 120 million individuals living in remote parts of more than 80 different countries.
Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe set up Wi-Fi zones where students congregate mostly in cafeterias, residence halls, and sports fields to give Internet access in 48 higher and tertiary learning institutions in Zimbabwe. This is a component of Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe’s Edu-Zones free Wi-Fi initiative, which promotes the growth of digital literacy and IT skills in Africa. Additionally, students will be given access to 21CSkills, an online learning platform that offers cutting-edge skill development programs on the newest technologies for African students, startups, and developers.
Starlink. Elon Musk, a business magnate, is promoting a project to send satellites into orbit for low-cost, high-speed global coverage. In contrast, AT&T provides $1.1 million to digital literacy initiatives at libraries. Google The Skills Ignition SG, a 9-month place and train program for up to 600 applicants, was unveiled due to Google’s partnership with Singapore’s Economic Development Board and the country’s SkillsFuture SG program. The program offers job opportunities for Singaporeans within Google and its ecosystem of hires, including startups and SMEs.
In the modern world, digital literacy is crucial, and teaching it in the classroom can be highly beneficial. However, this does not imply that we should quit on older groups. There might be a greater need. Telecom is doing its job to provide technology access to as many people as possible. The necessity for digital literacy is well acknowledged, but the process may still be cumbersome. In addition to being strict, sending a person who is digitally illiterate on a path to becoming digitally literate is also. The demographic that needs digital literacy the most, the older generation, might need to be more keen and accepting of the learning process, yet we must keep going.