Getting people online is a significant challenge but even when connectivity is achieved, there are multiple additional factors limiting people’s ability to use the Internet to enhance their well-being and improve their livelihoods. This project examined these “beyond access” issues by undertaking in-depth nationally representative surveys of ICT access and use among the adult population in 20 Global South countries. The surveys were part of a global initiative collaborating with our partners in 10 African countries, and our sister networks LIRNEasia in six Asian countries and DIRSI in five Latin American countries to produce much-needed quality data on ICT access and use in the Global South. They provide some of the only rigorous and publicly available evidence on the status and determinants of digital inequality.
The survey included individual, household, and micro-business and informal enterprise data. This was the first time the same survey had been conducted simultaneously across all three regions providing unique comparative insights, but in Africa builds on nationally representative ICT access and use surveys that have been conducted in four waves over the past decade and half when funding permitted. The After Access surveys seek to track and understand the new challenges of digital inclusion in an environment where mobile data, rather than voice services, is key to optimal use of the internet. Demand-side surveys of this kind are essential in the pre-paid mobile markets that dominate the Global South, where administrative supply-side data subscriber data available from service providers is unable to provide the gender, rural, education and income disaggregated data needed to pinpoint exact points of policy intervention.
The datasets, which are publicly accessible under a creative commons licence, allow detailed analysis and modelling, bringing greater granularity to our understanding of developing markets and society, and thereby to policy and regulatory recommendations. Amongst other things, the datasets:
- enable the disaggregation of data by several variables including sex, location, income, and age;
- enable analysis of the intersectional challenges faced by the marginalised in developing countries, providing insights into affordability, digital literacy, gender disparities, urban-rural divides, and unevenness of youth awareness and use; and
- provide critical insights into the drivers of over-the-top (OTT) adoption, mobile money use, the extent of online micro-work, the use of e-government services and social networking as the driver of Internet adoption.
Policy research areas that will be included in the next round of the survey for which pooled funding will be sought:
- will examine usage to understand the harms people and particularly vulnerable people may face as they come online for the first time in order to better inform data governance and justice frameworks needed to mitigate the risks associated with the platform economy;
- will more focus on developing the digital indicators to enable the capture and understanding of opportunities and barriers surrounding online work, e-commerce, e-trade and e-government in the gig economy.
In September 2018, the After Access global project was awarded the 2018 EQUALS in Tech Award in the research category in recognition of the project’s contribution towards closing the gender gap through rigorous research and advocacy.
After Access Policy Paper Series
Policy Paper No 10, Series 5: After Access – A Demand Side View of Informality and Financial Inclusion
Policy Paper No 9, Series 5: After Access – The State of ICT in Kenya
Policy Paper No 8, Series 5: After Access – The State if ICT in Uganda
Policy Paper No 7. Series 5: After Access – A Demand-side View of Mobile Internet from 10 African Countries
Policy Paper No. 6, Series. 5, After Access: The State of ICT in Mozambique
Policy Paper no. 5, Series 5: After Access – The State of ICT in South Africa
Policy Paper no. 4, Series 5: After Access – Youth, Deprivation and Internet in Africa
Policy Paper no. 3 Series 5: After Access – The State of ICT in Nigeria
Policy Paper no. 2, Series 5: After Access – What Is The State Of Microwork in Africa? A View from Seven Countries
Policy Paper no. 1, Series 5: After Access – Barriers to internet use- KENYA, NIGERIA, SOUTH AFRICA AND RWANDA
2019_Steps and Issues of Privatization of the Telecom Sector in Ethiopia_Amharic
2018 After Access: Understanding the Gender Gap in the Global South
2017 The State of ICT in Lesotho