In this essay there will be discussions on defining digital divide and the impacts it has on South Africa’s government and democracy.
Digital divide is a division or social issue that acquires information between those who have broadband access and those who do not. In more broad terms it is the access one has to Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). It has become a concern of availability to the web and being able to afford these digital connections (cost and quality).
When looking at developing countries, there are those that strive to increase economic performance and development to lead equal and fulfilling lives of individuals. While developed countries have more expansion of development, freedom, values and lead richer lives. (Global Sherpa).
There is a gap in price between the developing and developed countries. Digital access to the web is thrilling for developed countries but not for those that cannot even afford a post/comment. This takes down a challenge to all those that need access to the web so that the world is connected as a whole. Rather than having the main argument of Rich vs Poor.
The problems today are the amount of free access that developed countries have while the rest pay more than they should. It could not necessary mean two separate societies or worlds but those that happened to be disadvantaged. Slow economic growth, low-quality and high price connections or difficulties in accessing these connections.
DIGITAL DIVIDE IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE:
- Economic equality
Telephone lines are essential towards safety and emergency reasons. Internet increasingly improves how information is received and to whom. In most services such as social welfare services are offered electronically.
2. Social mobilityThe ex-chairman of the Board and ex-president of AMD, Ruiz says “Technology is only as powerful as it is accessible. Broader access brings education, information, and a sense of community that can help combat AIDS, malnutrition, ignorance and neglect. The power of a connected and enlightened world community is just beginning.”
- Computers and networks play a role in education. The learning skills of learners may differ due to insufficient equipment’s, governments need to offer more support in these situations.
- Internet may not be the only solution towards active democracy but the increase activity of public participation in elections and progress in decision-making.
- Economic growth
- Competitive advantage takes place when looking at economic growth. Less developed countries struggle with the improvement or advanced higher technologies as the prices are much greater.
- Rural areas
- Power Lines (PL and PLC) and satellite communications make it easier to reach rural areas and the concern to lower access prices are required to bridge the ICT divide.
- Disabilities“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” – Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web. (Internet World Stats).SOUTH AFRICASouth Africa is still an ongoing developing country and faces challenges such as the digital divide. “An estimated 4, 590 00 South African internet users at the end of 2008 and a total of 378 000 broadband internet subscribers- the number have grown. But still a drop in the ocean of 45 million people.” According to statistics the number of mobile users increased to 70% of the South African population. Mobile phones have become useful in rural areas as landlines fail to reach everyone in each community because not everyone is connected to their landlines. In that case the lack of access to ICTs disables one from access to information or being connected. E-citizenships and e-governmentThis is ways in which the public protector uses ICTs to facilitate accountability, transparency, effectiveness and public service delivery. Governments also use mobile technology to communicate with individuals in society. An example could be, residents receiving messages to receive their identity document or passports.
- A form government that is directly or indirectly chosen by the citizens and is usually described as:
- What is democracy?
- It is an advantage for citizens to participate and engage with the government. This creates a better environment and improves the communication among citizens. The constant inventions of new devices lead to training more citizens or the staff of the government departments. (Marishane & Shackleton, 2009).
- There is still a larger portion of South Africans population that are illiterate. Language barriers have been addressed, especially in rural areas, as most of the contents are in English. Loss of communication between citizens and governments may cause conflict. In order to avoid this, it is important to consider citizens’ languages, disabilities, gender and their access to information.
- While it is still a challenge to ensure that there is equal access to ICTs, e-government builds a relationship between citizens and their government. This is a progress of better communication taking place.
- No one should be left out of accessing the web because of disabilities or any other difficulties.
- Of the people: ordinary people can be part of the government seat (they have a say).
- By the people: select their leaders.
- For the people: serve their interests. (Merriam-Webster).During the elections in 2009, there was a shift improvement in political parties keeping in touch with citizens through social networks like Twitter. Parties do not have to go door-to-door to give out information but can simply use social networks. This makes a more democratic aspect of free-will and freedom of expression. Online speeches are made and voters are allowed to comment or share their views.Berners-Lee mentions how the majority of people are not online. This makes it a slower progress with countries with low levels of economic development. (The Daily Telegraph, 2013). At the end of the day everyone is bound to be connected due to advanced technology devices but just like there will always be the rich as well as the poor then there will always be those that cannot afford.
- Global Sherpa. (n. a.). Development and Developing Countries. Available: http://www.globalsherpa.org/development-developing-countries-developed [Accessed: 13 April 2014].
- Internet World Stats. (n. a.). The Digital Divide, ICT and the 50×15 Initiative. Available: http://www.internetworldstats.com/links10.htm [Accessed: 31 March 2014].
- Marishane, L. & Shackleton, S. (2009). South Africa. Available: http://www.giswatch.org/country-report/20/south-africa [Accessed: 1 April 2014].
- Merriam-Webster. (n. a.). Democracy. Available: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy [Accessed: 13 April 2014].
- The Daily Telegraph. (2013). Bid to bridge the digital divide. Available: http//www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/10/08/bid-to-bridge-the-digital-divide [Accessed: 13 April 2014].