Digital divide can be described as a term that refers to the discrepancy between people who have access to and the resources to use new information and communication tools, such as the Internet, and people who do not have the resources and access to the technology.It is a fact that, different groups of people are more or less privileged in accessing and using technology.
As a Business Administration student I am interested about how digital divide affects the economy in relation with other countries in the European Union. In the Digital age, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has become the key factor for the social and economic development of every country. ICTs investments appear to have an impact on productivity and growth. ICTs have various advantages and benefits for the developing countries and it can be a powerful instrument in increasing productivity, creating jobs, generating economic growth and increasing international cooperation in finance, trade, foreign direct investment and these technologies help local businesses with tools and services to help them enter into the global markets and to be effective and efficient, enhancing their productivity and competitiveness and creating new forms of business.
Despite the advantages and benefits we can see that every pointer shows that there is a significant difference between developed and developing countries in terms of accessing and using ICTs. This difference can show us the big gap between rich and poor countries. The economy of the rich-developed countries is based in the access to ICTs and especially in Internet.
But what are the reverberations of digital divide in economy of a developing country, such as Greece, and which aspects influence it?
It is commonly known that access to information, goods and services via the Internet would allow countries and communities to participate, as well as buy and sell goods and services regardless of their geographic location. Nowadays, the internet is accepted as one of the most ICT affecting our lives.
Taking a look to Greece we can see that the chance to connect to Internet in an urban area, like big cities, in relation to rural areas it is totally different. Some surveys show that in many parts of the country there is bad internet connection but also none.
On the European level the results show Greece at the bottom of the list of member-states in the fundamental ICTs indicators such as technological infrastructure, Internet access and usage in households and delivery of online public services, though it has made significant progress in the ICT field during the last four years.
- Greece occupies 23rd position among the EU member states in terms of broadband penetration.
- Greece ranks 25th in terms of household Internet access- 39, 4%, compared with 60% for EU.
- Half the population, 56%, has never used the Internet, ranking 26th in EU.
- 34% of Greeks are regular users, defined as those who use it at least once a week, and 23% are frequent users – using the Internet every day or almost every day. Compared to EU it is 56% and 43%.
- 18, 2% of Greeks are information literate while the European average is 31%.
- The online availability of public services in the areas of government, health and education remains among the lowest in Europe. The online delivery of basic public services for citizens is 33% (21st ranking) compared with 66% for EU.
Greece is facing a developmental problem as far as technology is concerned. As regards Internet access, Greece is one of the two most expensive member states and also exhibits extensive inequality between socio-demographic groups compared with other EU member states. More specifically:
- The studies find that age is a very important factor influencing Internet. The results show that young Greek users are generally more familiar with digital media, with the same rates of ICT access and use as the EU average. The highest share of regular Internet users is in the 16-24 age group 76, 5% with only 12% in the 55-74 age group.
- As regards gender, there is a marked contrast in regular use of the information network. Men outnumber women – 41, 9 % and 26, 1% correspondingly.
- Education has a considerable impact on Internet usage with percentage use increasing with the level of education:
– higher education (university/college) 72, 9% (technical college) 59, 5%,
– secondary education (senior high school) 46, 5% (junior high school) 31, 5%,
– primary/elementary education 3, 2%.
Significantly greater usage is observed in individuals of higher education.
- On a regional level, the percentage of Internet use in large cities reaches 49, 5% (Athens) and 46, 5% (Thessaloniki) while in urban regions it stands at 30, 6% with semi-urban or rural areas at 21,2%.