Bridging the Global Digital Divide

Bridging the Global Digital Divide

Jeffrey James

Employing a rigorous analytical framework, the author bases his analysis on the concept of international technological dualism. He argues that one possible solution to the problem is the availability of affordable technologies, such as low-cost computers, which are specifically designed for the income levels and socio-economic conditions of developing countries. He also emphasises that the most important aim of any policy measure should be to provide universal access to information technologies, rather than individual ownership. Depending on whether or not this divide can be bridged will, to a large degree, determine whether developing countries are able to attain higher levels of productivity, prosperity and global integration.

Chapter 8: A Web-based Registry of Low-cost Information Technologies for Developing Countries?

Jeffrey James

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, innovation and technology, technology and ict

Extract

INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to make the case for and to describe various forms of a single (dedicated) online registry of information relating to lowcost forms of information technology (IT) that could help developing countries to overcome the digital divide, that is, the large and growing gap that exists between the extent of IT applications in rich as against poor countries.1 (Knowledge about such technology is, of course, not a sufficient condition for its adoption but it is decidedly a necessary one.) In the first part of the chapter, we seek to explain why no such registry currently exists in spite of the fact that a great deal of information on low-cost forms of IT is already freely available on the World Wide Web. Building on our explanation of this seemingly paradoxical situation, we then advance a set of policy proposals that is designed to overcome or lessen the problems thus identified. At a minimum, we think that a dedicated new Web site needs to be developed, continuously updated and disseminated among all institutions currently engaged in fostering the use of IT in developing countries. More comprehensive policy proposals, however, can also be designed depending on, among other things, resource availability. WHY NO CENTRAL REGISTRY EXISTS As we see it, the current lack of a central registry of low-cost ITs is due to two main factors. The first is that such information that exists on the topic is highly fragmented involving a large number of different forms...

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