Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Analysing Socio-Demographic Differences in Access and Use of ICTs in Nigeria Using the Capability Approach

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Analysing Socio-Demographic Differences in Access and Use of ICTs in Nigeria Using the Capability Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

The impact of the development of the information society and especially the impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) on spatial development is now a question of discussion. One reason for this is probably simply the fact that, as Moss (2000) argued, we do not understand how these technologies will shape the growth of development. Modern ICTs are newcomers and their application is still in the early stage, although rapidly increasing. Within half a century, they have changed the world and affected millions of lives in ways that no one could have ever foreseen or imagined. They have also changed the nature of work we do, the range of occupations and skills requirements, making it necessary for workers to acquire a broader, add more adaptable knowledge base etc. They are transforming the ways in which we learn, communicate, do business, enjoy our leisure and live our everyday lives. ICTs defining characteristics are their capacity to harness, access and apply information and diffuse knowledge at electronic speed to all types of human activities and endeavors, thereby giving rise to contemporary knowledge-based economies and societies. According to Sood (2002), ICTs present an unprecedented opportunity to make new knowledge, services and opportunities available in underserved areas. In 1995 and 1997, the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) also investigated the benefits and risks of ICTs and the results showed many instances (such as in health, education, banking, etc.) where its use affords widespread social and economic benefits (World Bank, 1998). The growth and development of ICT has led to their wide diffusion and application, thus increasing their economic and social impact. The OECD (2007) undertook a wide range of activities aimed at improving our understanding of how ICTs contribute to sustainable economic growth and social well-being and their role in the shift toward knowledge-based societies. It has therefore become imperative to access and use ICTs everywhere especially in a developing country such as Nigeria.

ITU (2003) had noted that there are digital divide in the access and use of ICTs because of socio-cultural and economic factors (including gender, income, age, education) around the world. That is, there are gaps in access to and use of ICT among sex (male and female), age (old and young), education (skilled and unskilled), income level (high income earners and low income earners), location (rural and urban) etc. This study therefore seeks to find out whether there are socio-demographic differences that really affect access and use of ICTs in Nigeria using Sen's (1992, 1993, 1999) capability approach. This is to say that despite people being effectively able to use ICTs (i.e. their capabilities); there are socio-demographic (individual) differences in the access and use of these technologies along the dimensions of age, sex, location, education, income etc and these differences tend to affect freedom of use in the aspect of knowledge/experience to use ICTs. The study aimed at providing answers to the following research questions:

1. What are the real opportunities that are available for people to access ICTs in Erunmu and Bodija communities?

2. What are the characteristics of people who use and not use ICTs facilities in the two locations?

3. What are their reasons or objectives for using ICTs in the two locations?

4. How has the socio-demographic composition of people affected access to and use of ICTs in the two locations?

5. What are their capabilities of using ICTs despite having freedom of use?

Although, lots of studies (Alampay, 2006a; Choike organization, 2004; Colle & Roman 2002) have been carried out on access and use of ICTs, studies of socio-demographic differences in the access and use of ICTs in Nigeria using the capability approach are lacking. …

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