Digital divide is simply the gap between those who have advantage to access existing technologies and those who do not have these advantages. In Ghana, there is a digital divide among citizens in the country. Although technology is not fully accessible and utilised in the country, there are still instances where some people are more advanced than others. Factors that constitute digital divide in the country are income levels, internet connectivity, access to technology, illiteracy and location barriers.
In Ghana, we have the high - income, middle-income and low-income earners. The high - income earners are usually the ones who get the opportunity to take full advantage of emerging technologies around them. They have the funds to quickly adapt to technological changes. During the outbreak of the novel Covid-19 followed by the close down of schools, children of high-income earners were able to quickly adapt to the online mode of learning. This is because most of these children already have their own smartphones, laptops and tablets. Technology-in-health is somehow expensive. However, people with high incomes are able to afford to be treated with technological advances in hospitals without difficulty. Children from such homes are usually digital literates.
They are also able to buy enough data bundles for the fastest internet connectivity. However, people from middle - income homes are likely to also enjoy some of these advantages. This is because almost every child from this kind of home is also given the opportunity to own either a smartphone or a laptop. They also have some kind of digital literacy. Low-income earners on the other hand have a gap between them and the first two classes. They are usually technologically disadvantaged. Most of them find it difficult to purchase just a smartphone. They are often not able to afford sound health when it comes out that they have to be treated via emerging technologies which is quite expensive. Since they are not able to afford new technologies and know how to work with them, they turn out to be digital illiterates.
Also, Internet connectivity in some communities have also been a major cause of digital divide in the country. There is poor Internet connection throughout most of the rural Communities in Ghana. Even urban centres face poor Internet connections. Most people have the issue of walking from one place to another to get a stronger connection. People who have the opportunity to own personal wifi or buy higher amounts of data bundles are usually lucky to enjoy strong network connections. The rate of poverty in the country does not allow most of the people in the country to purchase and enjoy good network connections and for that matter people try to access wifi connections of privileged people and companies without their knowledge.
To add, the rate of digital literacy in the country is too low. ICT has been a compulsory subject to be taken by children from the basic schools, through to the senior high schools. However, not every school is privileged to have good tutors and the physical computer accessories to help arouse the minds of the learners of technology around them. We have pupils and students who graduate from the various junior high schools and secondary institutions with little knowledge of modern technologies. Most of the adults in the country did not even get the opportunity to be exposed to technology when growing up. It looks like digital literacy is common among the youth and privileged children instead.
However, more people are now turning towards the IT courses and institutions. We have more of the youths who want to venture in IT. Gradually, more people are joining the class of digital literacy and schools are becoming used to technology in education. Most of our hospitals and workplaces are adopting technological ways of doing things and there is the hope that, very soon Ghanaians will make use of emerging technologies.
By: Grace Opoku
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