Alison Gillwald

Beyond Access: Addressing Digital Inequality in Africa

"Although most Africans remain disconnected from the Internet, and access to broadband services continues to be a central policy issue, the increased availability of broadband services alone will not reduce digital inequality on the continent. While the provision of access to the Internet remains a key public policy issue — as a necessary condition of digital participation in the economy and society — it is insufficient.This paper argues broadband can no longer be seen as a supply-side infrastructural issue alone. Nor can public policy have a narrow sectoral focus any longer, with information and communication technologies (ICTs) cutting across public-private and formal-informal sectors alike. Demand stimulation measures — such as the reduction of prices to make services more affordable, the development of relevant local content and applications, the enhancement of citizens’ e-literacy and national skills development plans — are the focus areas of this paper. It examines alternative policy and regulatory interventions to so-called “international best practice” — assuming in the process certain political and economic conditions, by recognizing the institutional and resource constraints that generally exist in African countries — and proposes multiple strategies across the ICT ecosystem that could result in more inclusive digital development."

Information Lives of the Poor Fighting Poverty with Technology

"Information and communication have always opened opportunities for the poor to earn income, reduce isolation, and respond resiliently to disasters, conflicts, and emergencies. With mobile phone use exploding across the developing world, even marginalized communities are benefiting from modern communication tools. Some of the world’s poorest people now spend substantial portions of their income to make a mobile phone call or go online. This book explores the impacts of this unprecedented technological change. Drawing on unique household surveys undertaken by research networks active in 38 developing countries, it helps to fill knowledge gaps about how the poor use information and communication technologies (ICTs). How have they benefited from mobile devices, computers, and the Internet? What insights can research provide to promote affordable access to ICTs, so that communities across the developing world can take advantage of the opportunities they offer?"