The Changing Digital Divide and Mobile Technology

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals were discussed in the first blog post on Technology and Third World Development in 2011. The goals that had been set for 2015 were outlined and we are now in a position to understand the areas of success and where more attention may be needed in the future.

Development remains a serious global issue and the role that technology can play in addressing it remains important. The historical progression of the gap between rich and poor countries is outlined in this video from Hans Rosling:

The Digital Divide continues to exist between developed and developing countries and there are a variety of views on its significance and impact.

Laurel West from the Economist Intelligence Unit discusses the issues that are involved in bringing the world online. She considers the business models that might be used to make the internet more affordable and accessible in an interview for Huawei:

The practical significance of bridging the digital divide is highlighted in this video on Nepal showing the impact on peoples’ daily lives:

The Global Information Technology Report describes research on the digital divide. In its 2014 edition it examines the issues associated with development and big data.

GIT 2014

This discussion is important because it moves beyond simply assuming that access to the internet will close the digital divide, instead it looks at the capabilities that nations have in using it. In this report the ability to use big data is considered looking at a wide range of factors to produce a ranking of countries’ big data capability.

Kentaro Toyama argues that information technology needs to more carefully be applied to meet the needs of people in developing countries. The wider social system needs to be included in consideration of the impact of technology and how it might be applied:

The economic policy view adopted on the application of technology is also subject to substantial argument. The International Monetary Fund argues that removing market restrictions on technology companies will lead to development. John Pilger presents an alternative view:

Al Jazeera look at whether the IMF hurt or help poor nations and the following video debates the issues on this topic:

Mobile technology continues to be a major focus of development discussion. The rapid proliferation of mobile devices in developing countries is described in a recent report from Ericsson which argues that data and voice traffic will continue to rapidly increase and contribute significantly to development.

mobile africa

Mobile banking has expanded rapidly in Africa in recent years, fueling economic development. This video from IBM describes their view of the impact:

This post has discussed recent developments in information technology in third world countries. Comments on its content are welcome.



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