Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have improved immensely over the past centuries and are providing huge advantages to its users. The internet has infused many aspects of modern life since its beginning in the 1980s and has spread faster than any other technology. ICT is providing in-depth information and the capability for social and economic chance. By bridging distances, it distributes knowledge and expertise to remote areas. The term ‘digital divide’ is frequently used to describe the gap between those who already have access to communication technology and the necessary skills to use it and those who still lack access or skills to use these same technologies within society or a geographic region (Cisler, 2005).
Nepal, a country with a huge gender gap, is still trying to achieve socio economic development of its rural areas. Internet is still not readily available and the illiteracy rate is high. Religion is a contributing factor that is restricting opportunities for women to receive education. NGO’s such as ActionAid are trying to reduce these gender issues by providing empowerment training to women (Cooper, 2013). NGO’s are not only facilitating affordable Internet access for rural areas but are also working towards better educating women in technology and teaching them about computers and the internet in order to bridge the digital divide in the Nepali economy.
The use of mobile phones has been on the rise word wide, however, internet usage in rural areas remains low due to poor information infrastructure as well as a lack of electricity or network connectivity. Pieterse (2005) argues that cyber utopianism, the idea that the internet is fundamentally emancipatory, needs to be evaluated and suggests putting less emphasis on the Internet and more on other technology such as telephone, radio, and television.
Access to technology is crucial, and technology needs to be affordable (Shrestha, 2011). The initiative in attempting to meet the information age in Nepal could, however, create additional danger in its pursuit to bridge the digital divide by locking developing countries into a new type of dependency on the West (Pieterse, 2005). This could aggravate existing social and structural inequalities and widen the digital divide between those who have technology and those who do not.
Huawei Investment & Holding Co., Ltd is committed to providing easy voice communications for people in Nepal by focusing on bridging the digital divide by providing broadband, training centers, and customized ICT applications. In 2013, Huawei has successfully installed energy efficient outdoor base stations powered by solar energy to rapidly attain signal coverage in remote areas (Huawei, 2013).
Improving the technological network is only one area in need of progress; another is the immense gap in Nepalese’s ability to use ICT technology, especially among women. In order to overcome this digital divide in Nepal, accelerating the development of women is crucial, and it needs to be ensured that both women and men receive good education and gain digital literacy.
Aayush. Bridging The Digital Divide. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkb2pOtyR14
Cisler, S. in: Lovink, Geert & Zehle, Soenke (2005). The Incommunicado Reader. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.
Cooper, C. (2013). Gender Inequality. http://aleevee8.com/2013/06/25/gender-inequality/
Huawei (2013). Sustainable Development.
Shrestha, S. (2011). Nepal, the great digital divide.
Pieterse, J.N. in: Lovink, Geert & Zehle, Soenke (2005) The Incommunicado Reader. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.