3- The Multifaceted "Digital Divide"
A digital divide is an economic inequality between groups, broadly construed, in terms of access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies (ICT). The divide within countries can refer to inequalities between individuals, households, businesses, and geographic areas at different socioeconomic and other demographic levels, while the divide between countries is referred to as the global digital divide, which designates nations as the units of analysis and examines the gap between developing and developed countries on an international scale. (Chinn& Robert ,2004)
ICT includes networking technologies, telecommunications and information technology (telephone, T.V., Internet, computers, etc.) that directly or indirectly influence our socio-economic, educational and cultural activities.
It takes many forms: Digital divide between north and south, it also refers to inequalities in access to and use of ICT between urban and rural areas, and between genders. This form of digital divide is a consequence of the social divide which is reflected as a knowledge divide.
(Ollivier, 2006) argued that the digital divide is a multiple and complex concept at the same time, because it reflects innumerable inequalities between men and women, rural area and urban areas, "haves" and "have-nots", taking into account the technological level, the rate of being connected, the number of machines, ICT budgets etc.
It reflects also differences in economic development (GDP per capita, costs of computer equipment), technology (bandwidth) energy (electricity), industrial (low development software production) or language. This is the reason for which technological development and the improvement of connectivity alone cannot suffice to bridge the digital divide.
Some researchers speak of a "dual digital divide", or a 2nd degree digital divide, which refers to the required skills for users to access ICT. That is, the digital divide is related to issues of access to the benefits of digitization and the capabilities of a population or social group to use ICT appropriately and contribute to sustainable development.
Ben Youssef, (2004) distinguishes four dimensions to the digital divide: Digital divide related to ICT equipment, digital divide due to the use of ICT, digital divide in terms of performance that are induced by the use of ICT, and finally digital divide as a "dynamic" process-related to ICT learning.
Many scholars, among which is (Norris, 2001), deal with the issue of digital divide in terms of 3 levels:
Global divide: refers to differences between states or areas or regions. These are the differences in penetration of ICT in individual countries at the global level. A significant difference is observed in the penetration of ICT between developing countries and the rest of the world.
Social divide: refers to differences in access to ICT, and accordingly to the information within each state, nation...