Close the Digital Gap

The importance of being connected and citizens’ access to the information society, along with the social and economic benefits it brings with it, has been very well recognized and documented. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are arguably the most potent tools shaping the twenty-first century as they redefine the way human beings communicate, learn, work, and play. In essence, ICTs are re-defining how we live.

As a tool for human development and empowerment, ICTs have no equal. Their ability to enable inclusion and access to information, as well as to offer a vast array of opportunities across the social, economic, environmental, and political domains, make them strategic tools for individual, national, and global development. While the potential of ICT for stimulating economic growth, socioeconomic development and effective governance is well recognized, the benefits of ICT have been unevenly distributed within and between countries. This has created a digital divide in resources and capabilities to access and effectively utilize ICT for development that exist within and between countries, regions, sectors, and socio-economic groups. The digital divide is often characterized by low levels of access to technologies. Poverty, illiteracy, lack of computer literacy, and language barriers are among the factors impeding access to ICT infrastructure, especially in Pakistan.

The majority of low income households in Pakistan are on the wrong side of the digital and knowledge divide; the capacity of these households to engage in the knowledge society is grossly under-developed and under-utilized. Low income households are at risk of becoming increasingly marginalized in the knowledge society, where much more than access to and use of information technology is at stake.

In the knowledge society they need access not only to new technologies but also the ability to participate fully in knowledge-based activities. Given the barriers, challenges and roles that determine their ability to participate on an equal basis with the digital divide in knowledge societies cannot be expected to improve automatically with economic growth. Rather, specific actions and interventions are needed which Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan (iPOP) in partnership with international and national organizations is trying to address by providing computers, communication equipment’s, software’s, training’s and diverse solutions to bridge the digital divide in Pakistan.