Digital concerns underpin many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Gender equality, good health, quality education, industry innovation, smart and sustainable cities: these all require strong information and communications technology systems to become a reality.
For all of this to happen, developing countries will have to overcome the “digital divide”. This refers to the gap between those who are connected – first to voice and now to Internet services – and those who aren’t.But there’s a problem. We simply don’t have the data in developing countries, and in global statistics, to know what the status quo is or whether the digital divide is being closed. So we don’t know if information and communications technologies are contributing to the achievement of the SDG targets.
The AfterAccess Survey, which was run across 16 countries in the Global South in 2017, fills some of these data gaps. The survey tells us who has access to and uses mobile phones for what purposes. It also reveals data about Internet users and non-users, and the reasons that people aren’t online – usually, because Internet enabled devices are too expensive.
By Alison Gillwald – Research ICT Africa Executive director
The full article is available on The Conversation Africa