Digital divide widens in 2013

New statistics from the UN's telecommunications body show a gender-based incongruence in universal Internet usage while Africa continues to lag behind in connectivity and use.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has released its 2013 statistics on world wide Internet use, showing women lag behind men in both developing and developed countries. This information has sparked conversations around women-focused marketing for Internet-related hardware and technologies.

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The data also shows that the African continent continues to lag behind in terms of Internet infrastructure. ITU Secretary General, Hamadoun Touré, told BBC News: “Our most pressing challenge is to identify ways to enable those countries which are still struggling to connect their populations to deploy the networks and services which will lift them out of poverty”.

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The United Nations is discussing ways to reduce the cost of Internet in developing countries as information technology opens up employment opportunities and markets that contribute to economies.

In response to the low numbers in developing countries, lobbying groups have formed to improve the conditions. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, commented at a press conference this week: “The reason for the alliance is simple – the majority of the world’s people are still not online, usually because they can’t afford to be. In Mozambique, for example, a recent study showed that using just one gigabyte of data can cost well over two months’ wages for the average citizen. The result of high prices is a widening digital divide that slows progress in vital areas such as health, education and science,” he said.

*Sources: BBC, ITU