Lifting the Veil on ICT Gender Indicators in Africa

Gender equality has been identified as critical to the realisation of knowledge societies. This has been reflected in policy commitments at both global and national levels. The increased take up of information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly broadband, has increasingly been linked to economic growth and social inclusion. The conceptual framework of inclusivity provides a lens through which to explore the findings of the Research ICT Africa (RIA) 2012 household and individual access and use survey, in order to provide a descriptive and empirical analysis based on gender disaggregated data. The analysis seeks to unmask the gender dimension of the limited sex disaggregated ICT indicators available. Using the dataset from the 2012 survey, which was conducted across 12 African countries, the purpose of this paper is to look at the gap in ICT access and use, from a gender perspective, both at the country level and comparatively across countries. Building on the 2010 RIA gender and ICT report the paper seeks to examine whether the gap between men and women with regard to ICT access and use diminishes the greater the equality in education and income between men and women. The descriptive findings show that women generally have less access to ICTs than men and this increases as the technologies and services become more sophisticated and expensive, requiring greater levels of income and education to access and to operate. The analysis demonstrates that gender disparities exist for mobile phone adoption in rural areas. In urban areas, differences in mobile phone adoption are a consequence of the differences in income and education. Internet adoption however, is affected by gender disparities in both urban and rural areas and women seem to be the last movers (or late adopters) of technology in this case.