In the 21st century, the digital divide has become a global issue. In Nigeria, the digital divide is evident, especially in the gap between urban and rural areas. This divide is further complicated by the country's multicultural and multilingual nature. As such, understanding the digital divide in multicultural Nigeria is vital for bridging the gap and ensuring equal access to information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Nigeria is a country with over 200 ethnic groups, each with its language and culture. This diversity is an essential characteristic of the country, but it also poses a challenge for bridging the digital divide. Studies have shown that language and cultural barriers contribute significantly to the digital divide (Gichoya & Yilmaz, 2016; Kamal, 2014). Although the literacy level in Nigeria is on the rise, there is still a fraction of the population’s demography that might lose out on the benefit of digitization as a result of the language barrier.
The geographical divide is also a big factor with rural areas being less developed than urban areas. The digital divide between these two areas is evident, with urban areas having better access to ICT infrastructure than rural areas. According to National Communication Commission (NCC) (2022), broadband usage has risen from 40.9% in February 2022 to 44.5% in July 2022, with a projection of achieving the national broadband target of 70% in 2025. Despite this feat, the lack of infrastructure, coupled with the high cost of accessing the internet, has contributed to the digital divide in rural areas, making it harder for people in these areas to access online services.
The socio-economic status of individuals also plays a significant role in the digital divide in Nigeria. Studies have shown that people with higher income and education levels are more likely to have access to ICTs (Gichoya & Yilmaz, 2016; Kamal, 2014). Poverty, no doubt, contributes to the digital divide in the country. The high cost of accessing ICTs makes it difficult for people in low-income households to access the internet. Low levels of education and digital literacy also contribute to the divide, making it harder for people in these groups to use ICTs effectively.
In conclusion, the digital divide in multicultural Nigeria is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. Bridging the divide requires addressing language and cultural barriers, improving infrastructure in rural areas, and reducing poverty levels. Digital literacy programs should be developed and implemented to help marginalized groups effectively use ICTs. Governments and other stakeholders should collaborate to address these issues, ensuring that everyone has equal access to information and communication technologies.
Gichoya, D., & Yilmaz, S. (2016). Bridging the digital divide: factors affecting the adoption of ICT in developing countries. Journal of International Technology and Information Management, 25(2), 69-88.
Kamal, M. M. (2014). Bridging the digital divide in developing countries: An exploratory study of the role of NGOs. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 10(2), 4-20.
Mehmood, A. (2019). Bridging the digital divide in Nigeria. International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society, 17(1), 51-67.
NCC (2022, August 11) Broadband penetration hits 44.5%. https://www.ncc.gov.ng/media-centre/news-headlines/1248-broadband-penetration-hits-44-5-as-ncc-reviews-short-code-services