Digital inclusivity is becoming more and more of an evident global necessity. Technology plays a vital role in millions of people’s lives across the world, however, there are still large parts of the world that are completely cut off from the Digital Revolution.
The idea of digital inclusion brings up a few different issues which include access, affordability, education and availability. A significant portion of our life takes place in the digital realm including communication and transactions. Whilst there are millions of us who rely heavily on tech, individual access is not equal.
A lack of digital inclusion has a strong potential to push people into and keep people living in poverty. Being unable to access technology such as the internet impacts economic opportunity, education and connectivity across communities. This issue has led many policy-makers and others to call for action for the digital well-being of global citizens. Digital inclusion is a complex issue requiring collaboration and cooperation across government and private sector organisations.
Effects of COVID-19
One of the key moments in recent history is the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation clearly showcased how important digital inclusivity is. The impact of COVID-19 on public services accessibility and efficiency showcased the necessity of new technologies in achieving positive outcomes.
During the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo conference, Charles McHardie, CIO for the social services agency, Services Australia, highlighted the significant role played by digital transformation in addressing the pandemic’s challenges. Services Australia was tasked with providing critical support to citizens in quarantine and isolated from traditional face-to-face services. Due to former investment, they were able to carry out their service in a safe and transformative way. Similar tactics took place across countries such as the UK and the US. Many young people saw their learning be taken out of the classrooms and onto their screens. Students were still able to gain access to a well-rounded and quality education whilst remaining safe in their homes.
The same cannot be said in lower-income nations. In nations and communities with no internet access and low digital literacy, children had no choice but to keep, if open, going to school.
What is being done?
Across the globe, there are several initiatives being built to build digital inclusvity. One s the digital India Program which aims to increase access to digital services and assist in closing the gap between the digital divide in Inida. The program aims to provide high-speed Internet and digital literacy training to rural communities.
On top of this, Digital Skills for Africa has also been created. This initiative aims to support the teaching of digital literacy and train indiviuals of all ages across Africa. The aim is to teach as many as possible as it is estimated that by 2030, around 230 million employment opportunities will open up across the continent and will require a minimum level of digital aptitude.
These examples are just some of the initiatives that are working towards creating accessibility to digital systems across the globe. The United Nations ninth Sustainable Development Goal includes the improved access to the internet and increase access to imoformation and communications technologies. In several developing countries, mobile broadband (3G or higher) is the main means, sometimes the only way, to connect to the internet.
As od 2022, around 95% of the global population has access to a mobile broadband network. 4G network coverage almost doubled between 2019 and 2021 leading to 88% of people having access to a 4G connection. Although the increase is great, the gap in coverage remains significant in lower-income countries and landlocked developing countries, where 17% of the population remains without little to no access to a mobile broadband network.
Achieving and promoting digital inclusion is essential for allowing the growth of the sustainable well-being of citizens and encouraging a robust economy.
Tej Kohli is a philanthropist, technologist and investor.
Find out more about Tej Kohli: Tej Kohli the technologist investing in human triumph and Tej Kohli the London tycoon with a generous streak.