Digital Divide


The term digital divide describes the fact that the world can be divided into people who do and people who do not have access to and the capability to use information technology, such as the telephone, television, or the Internet. In other words, it is the unequal access by some members of society to information and communication technology, and the unequal acquisition of related skills. The term is closely related to the knowledge divide as the lack of technology causes lack of useful information and knowledge. Hence, the digital divide also exists between the educated and the uneducated, between economic classes, and, globally, between the more and less industrially developed nations.

Statistics of Global Digital Divide

The figures below illustrate the current situation of digital divide in the worldwide range.
Source: United Nations Global Development Goals Indicators

This picture shows the computers distribution per 100 people in the world. The gap between developed regions such as North America and Western Europe and the developing regions such as Africa and South Asia is clearly demonstrated. In some high rate areas, for example in North America, every 50 to 89 out of 100 people own a computer. In contrast, in some Africa countries, only 0 to 5 per 100 people own a computer.

Source: ITU
In picture 2, the graph shows internet users per 100 people in developed regions, developing regions, and the world as a whole from 1997 to 2007. Focus on developed world in 10 years, the internet users grew from 11 per 100 inhabitants to 62 per 100 inhabitants; that is almost 6 times increased. For developing world, the rate increased from none to 17 per 100 people in 10 years. Although the rate for developing world is growing faster than the developed world, it is still a huge disparity of people who can access to the internet from both regions.

Source: ITU

In Mobile telephone users sector, mobile telephone users per 100 people grew from 18 to 97 in 10 years in developed regions. In comparison, mobile telephone users from developing regions increased to 45 per 100 people in 10 years. Again, the difference between two type of regions are still significant.
Source: Shield Digital
Put the Internet Users in percentage example, Asia backed by its large population occupied 40% of the total users. Then, Europe is in the second place with 26%. However, Africa has about 15% of the world population, but it only has 3% of the total internet users.

For more detail information on specific national digital statistics, check

Debate of Digital Divide

According to Subbiah Arunachalam the introduction of new Information Communication Technologies is the basis for the digital divide not only among the rich and poor nations but also within nations (Arunachalam, 2002). Economic disparities exists between the global North and global South which have resulted to the further differences in the world in terms of literacy levels, computer skills and technical skills which are required especially while using the internet (James, 2005). Therefore donors for development projects in developing countries are faced with a dilemma of whether to fund ICT projects or to continue funding projects that will provide the poor with basic needs (Arunachalam, 2002). Therefore it is evident that as long as there is an economic difference influence other forms of differences including the digital divide. Hence, development efforts and aid to developing countries give priority to basic needs of food, shelter, health and education. Once these needs have been met especially in rural areas where population is dense in the developing countries then they can develop communication tele-centers that will provide ICT’s. Consequently, this will widen the digital divide while simultaneously working to close the gap that exists in provision of basic needs to the destitute nations.


Digital divide means that the people who do and who do not have the access to and capability to use information technology. Currently, the digital divide between developed and developing countries are significant. The factor of digital divide is mostly based on the financial difference between developed and third-world countries. However, many developing countries have to face to the issues of the basic living needs of citizens, such as food, health and education. Communication technology for these countries is considered to be developed after the basic living needs are satisfied. At the same time, the data of digital divide shows that the third world countries develop much faster than developed countries, though the digital divide is still significant. Therefore, the digital divide will decline bit by bit.
Works Cited:
Arunachalam, S. (2002). Reaching the unreached: how can we use ICT's to inform the rural poor in the developing world through enhanced access to relevant information? Journal of Information Science , 513-522.
James, J. (2005). The global digital divide in the Internet: developed countries constructs and Third World realities. Journal of Information Science , 114-123.

Edited by Yawei Liu :p
According to Jeffrey James, digital divide is "the differential degree to which rich and poor countries benefit from new information and communication techonologies." The digital divide is widely measured by international institutions, however, some people consider the measurement of digital divide as "inherently flawed or devoid of any useful comparative information" because the measurement overlooks the factor that rural sectors of developing countries might have their own ways of addressing local communication problems. Things like rural kiosks in India work very well in local districts.
sources: James, J. (2005). The Global Digital Divide in the Internet: Developed Countries Constructs and Third World Realities. Journal of Information Science 31(2): 114-123.

Online Tour

Topic: Mobiles, The Digital Divide, And Google - January 12, 2007 YouTube Video
Credit to: Prof. Leonard Waverman, Chair, Economics, London Business School Director, LECG
Abstract: Interesting talk about how closely the technology is related to the the social and economics nowadays, by using China and India as examples
Link <> (Length 1:00:59)
(February 7, 2010 viewed)

Topic: The Digital Divide - May 30, 2008 Youtube Video
Credit to: Caitlin Haney, Scott Nordquist, Daniel Won, Kidist Zeru
Abstract: Using a compilation of outside video and photos along with original text this video addresses the social problem known as the Digital Divide
Link <> (Length 08:49)
(February 7, 2010 viewed)

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