Isys 100 Research Report Digital Divide

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The Digital Divide An Analysis of Digitalization of Bangladesh

A M SHAHRIAR

Contents Introduction to Digital Divide Background of Bangladesh ICT in Bangladesh Factors contributing to the digital divide in Bangladesh The future of ICT in Bangladesh Conclusion Acronyms, Appendices List of References

Pages 1 1 1-2 2-4 4-6 6-7 8-10 11-12

This Research Report Has Been Created For Mr. Matthew Mansour, ISYS100 (It & Society), Macquarie City Campus

Introduction to Digital Divide The term ‘Digital Divide’ when initially coined mainly referred to the differences between various nations and communities and their access to computer and the internet. Over the years the term has widened in terms of its meaning and now its meaning could be interpreted as the differences in the distribution of digital technologies like television, radio, and mobile telephony throughout the world (Unwin and De Bastion, 2009). The focus of this paper is on Bangladesh and we will look into the numerous factors that has lead to the digital divide. We will also emphasize how the digital divide has impacted the various aspects of the country including the socio-economic climate. Background Bangladesh emerged on the world map on 16th December 1971 after the liberation war against Pakistan. It is a Democratic Republic. Bangladesh is situated on the southern parts of Asia bordered by India in north and west, Myanmar in the east and the Bay of Bengal in the south. The total area of Bangladesh is 143,998 sq km (Central Intelligence Agency, July 2012), 94th largest in the world populated by 161,083,804 people (C I A, July 2012) 8th most populated in the world with population density at 1118.65 persons/sq km. Information and Communication Technologies in Bangladesh The Internet was introduced comparatively very late in Bangladesh at 1966 and even by 2004 it was nowhere in the global broadband map (Dwivedi, Khan and Papazafeiropoulou, 2006). During these times the poverty in Bangladesh was around 40% (World Bank, 2005) and hence it is evident that the access to internet or computer usage was very

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expensive and unaffordable for the majority of the population. The biggest reason of poverty in Bangladesh over the past many decades has been the highly dense population which in turn has affected the nation’s socio-economic climate. Because of this the access to information technologies such as computer usage and internet availability has been very difficult. Why is there a gap? Factors contributing to the digital divide in Bangladesh Economic The per capita income of Bangladesh was $848 during the 2011-2012 fiscal years, which is still below the middle-income bracket (The Daily Star, June 2012). In terms of Comparison, we look into the per capita income of Australia which is $45,300 we realise that how low the income level in Bangladesh really is. The per capita income growth of Bangladesh has been really slow compared to other developing Asian Nations (Refer to Appendix-A). As of 2010the poverty head count ratio of Bangladesh was still 31.5%, which although has decreased from the past years is not decreasing at the rate it should (Refer to Appendix-B, source: World Bank). This has been one of the most significant factors that has contributed to the digital divide that exists between Bangladesh and the many other nations. Socio-Cultural One of the biggest barriers to accessing the internet is the Language. There are only a handful websites that are in Bengali, the language in Bangladesh by more than 90% of the people. In a country with only 18% English speaking population (Euro monitor international report 2009) it is extremely difficult for the vast population to use the various digital technologies like the computer or the internet because of the lack of knowledge of the language which these technologies use. 2

Another aspect important to highlight is the inability of women to readily access the technologies like the computer or the internet....
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