Thursday, October 2, 2014

The digital divide is growing

Living in an 'infrastructure challenged' setting, it is not lost on me that even as the uptake of Internet connectivity is rapidly expanding, it also slow to reach many of the world's population.  And, importantly, the digital divide is growing, according to a recent McKinsey report, titled 'Off-line and falling behind.'

The report offers several reasons why certain groups are slow to adopt Internet services and suggests that four factors, including 'incentives,' 'low incomes and affordability,' 'user capabilities' and 'infrastructure.'

Moreover, the factors are often compounding and inter-related, according to McKinsey.

"We measured the performance of 25 countries against a basket of metrics relating to each category of barriers to develop the Internet Barriers Index.5 We found that all factors correlate strongly and separately with Internet penetration, and all regressions indicate an elastic effect on Internet penetration—that is, improvements on each individual pillar of the Internet Barriers Index will have a disproportionately positive impact on Internet penetration. In addition, we found a systematically positive and, in some cases, large correlation between barrier categories. This implies that the factors are not totally independent and that countries with low Internet penetration tend to have multidimensional bottlenecks when it comes to increasing their Internet adoption. Further, it means that meaningfully addressing these barriers and boosting Internet penetration will require coordination across Internet ecosystem participants."

While it appears that this is a developed versus a developing world phenomenon, I have observed that connectivity is 'lumpy' all around the world and that "we're all a little bit third world."

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