I am going to talk about a topic that, at least in my experience, has not been given the importance it should have, both politically and academically. I never see this on the news and I haven treated this topic in class neither, but the digital gap is actually, in my opinion, one of the biggest social-economical problems of the 21 century.
The digital gap is a concept developed around the development of computational and information technologies, taking into account the digital distance that the developed countries are getting in relation to the undeveloped or developing countries.
This digital gap is at the end and addition to the industrial gap and it will push the third world even further, as it has already done, from our world. Furthermore, in my opinion, this distance is creating two different societies, in every possible aspect, we consume, produce, behave and even think in a completely different way.
Economically for example, nowadays it is not only that an individual of Africa doesn’t have and will never have by itself the capital capacity to generate a business able to compete with a first world company, it is that if the individuals living in this countries need to know, or at least hire someone who knows, what is Excel, and they don’t nor they have the possibility of knowing.
The point that I want to make is that in the world that we live now, in order to try to eliminate the third world, the solution doesn’t consist only about in money it is also about reducing this digital gap.
In order to do that we have to divide the digital gap problem in tree different focus of action, according to Kemly Camacho this tree sections are:
This is problem is very similar to the one created by industrial gap, this is the lack of digital infrastructure that the undeveloped and developing countries have. The lack of infrastructure is not only related to the digital terminals such as computers or phones. The important problem is the great infrastructures that need to be installed in this countries, this is essentially the installation of backbone cabling and national servers.
The training and education method
The spreading of the know-how is another big challenge. It is not only important to have the possibility to use Excel but it is also vital to understand and be able use the digital resources. In order to reduce the digital gap is vital to match the capacity of the users with the digital possibilities.
The barriers in the use of the digital resources
This is the least obvious problem. The developing countries have serious difficulties in reaching the information and services provided by the digital resources. One of the biggest barriers in some countries is the language, since undeveloped countries with unique languages and without one of the common spoken languages as a second official language have a hard time reaching the information on the internet. This difficulties the self formation of the user, key in the development of the digital knowledge.
This challenges need to face real solutions, internationally driven policies that face the problems listed above. Nowadays this are the key some of the actors in the fight to reduce the technological breach.
The biggest international organ dedicated to the reduction of the digital gap is the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force. Created in 2001 this organ is mostly dedicated to the counseling of the of undeveloped countries in the policy designing in relation to the digital development and the promotion of international partnerships between governments, the private sector, civil society organisations, the academic community and donors and investors.
As you can see this political response to the digital gap has not been very effective. A more serious response is needed, with an development plan and a serious budget to spend in infrastructures and formation.
In therms of private organizations we have organizations like Close The Gap that is focused on the re-utilization of donated digital equipment, transporting it to undeveloped countries and setting up formation centers were the population is able to learn and use the digital technologies. They have also a section of software development to adapt the digital resources to every specific country.
As you can see, there neither the awareness or the international response are substantial. We need to start seeing the problem that the digital gap proposes and act accordingly with it. If we don´t do this the countries that haven´t reached the technological development will be separated in such a way that they will be irreconcilable with the developed world and therefore mired into poverty.