We can’t tell if we’re closing the digital divide without more data

In this blog post for the World Economic Forum, Dr Alison Gillwald critically takes a look at the evidence challenge for developing countries in order to close the digital divide.  The blog highlights that in pre-paid mobile markets the only way to obtain such data is through nationally representative demand-side surveys, such as the AfterAccess Survey undertaken across 16 countries in the Global South in 2017. The AfterAccess Survey was undertaken in Africa by RIA, in Asia by LIRNEasia and in Latin America by DIRSI. With data gathered from more than 30 000 hour-long interviews conducted in Asia and Latin America, the survey collects all of the basic indicators required by the ITU/UNCTAD-led Partnership on Measuring the Information Society as shown by the mobile phone and Internet indicators

“To redress digital inequality in the Global South, far more attention will need to be paid to measures that stimulate demand. Even where environments that are conducive to investment have been created for the extension of networks, our survey data illustrates how the socially and economically marginalized – particularly those at the intersections of class, gender and race – are unable to harness the internet to enhance their social and economic well-being. The data available shows that besides affordability, human development – particularly education and therefore income – are the primary determinants of access, intensity of use and the use of the internet for production not just consumption.”

Read the full bog here.