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Digital divide

2019

Bluetown, a Denmark based organization on 9 January 2019 announced a partnershipwith Microsoft through the Airband Initiativethat will bring internet access to approximately 800,000 people in an underserved communities in the Eastern region of Ghana. TV White Space and Wi-Fi technologies will be used to implement public Wi-Fi zones that affords Internet access at a lower cost. The project will also provide dedicated Internet access to local institutions and businesses and free access to digital services (e-learning, e-health, news and more).  

2018

Re:publica, Europe’s largest conference on the topics of Internet and digital society has successfully concluded its first ever conference Africa in Accra, Ghana dubbed Re:publica Accra. The 2-day conference which took place on the 14-15 December 2018 was organized in collaboration with Impact Hub Accra with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Corporation and Development (BMZ). The conference discussed issues on such topics as Net Neutrality, Data Protection, Civil Rights and other digital and societal issues bothering on ‘Access’, ‘Gender’, ‘Waste’, ‘Future’, ‘Tech for Good’ among others.

The European Commission launched an annual scoreboard to monitor women's participation in the digital economy. The Women in Digital (WiD) Scoreboard is a tool to measure and assess the participation of women in the digital economy through four types of analysis: 1) evaluating the general characterisation of the performance of individual Member States, 2) pinpointing areas for improvement by analysing individual indicators, 3) assessing progress over time, 4) pointing out the need for improve relevant policy areas. The scorecard revealed a gender gap in all 13 indicators at EU level which is largely manifested in the area of ICT specialist skills and employment; 76 % for ICT specialists and 47 % for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics graduates. Nonetheless, the difference is reduced within the younger age group (16 to 24) between women and men vis-à-vis digital participation; 55% of women compared to 60% of men. This gap is even reversed in certain countries where women overperform men in digital participation. 

The World Economic Forum released its publication Our Shared Digital Future Building an Inclusive, Trustworthy and Sustainable Digital Society that was produced in collaboration with leaders from business, government, academia and civil society. The paper aimed at shaping an agenda to move towards a more inclusive, trustworthy, and sustainable digital future in six shared goals that include universal internet access and adoption, digital transformation, digital identity, governance, cyber resilience, and data. The document reinforces the importance of addressing the digital divide through approaches that go beyond digital access to include digital literacy, digital identity, and a new social contract that allows all classes of society to benefit from the digital economy. Additionally, the paper outlines some digital initiatives and provides common frame around which initiatives can focus and become mutually reinforcing. It further posits a raft of open questions to form the discourse in different forums in 2019.

During the G20 Summit in Argentina from 30 November – 1 December 2018, the leaders of countries and global organisations reached an agreement on areas for development and economic growth through an agenda that is people-centred, inclusive, and forward-looking. The G20 Leaders’ declaration building consensus for fair and sustainable development focuses on digitalisation and emerging technologies for innovative growth and productivity. To this aim, it endorses different measures that include, but not limited to, overcoming the digital gender divide, promoting digital inclusion, and enhancing digital government, digital infrastructure as well as measurement of the digital economy. Additionally, The G20 leaders marked a desire to embrace the G20 Repository of Digital Policies aiming at espousing the adoption of innovative digital economy business models. In that sense, the declaration emphasises the importance of the interface between trade and the digital economy. It further calls upon the digital industry to collaborate to combat the exploitation of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes.

G20 leaders recognised that transformative technologies are expected to bring new and better jobs. Policy options for the future of work will draw on ‘harness technology to strengthen growth and productivity’; ‘support people during transitions and address distributional challenges’ and ‘secure tax systems’. The leaders remained committed to build an inclusive, fair and sustainable future of work by reskilling workers and recognising the importance of social dialogue in the area, including work delivered through digital platforms, aiming at labour formalisation and making social protection systems strong and portable. Access to education to enhance digital skills was underlined as a strategic policy area for the development of more inclusive, prosperous, and peaceful societies. To expand the benefits of digitalization, G20 nations will promote measures to boost micro, small and medium enterprises, bridge the divide and further digital inclusion. They will also improve digital government, digital infrastructure and measurement of the digital economy.

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