Closing the Digital Divide in Low-Income Urban Communities: A Domestication Approach

Patrick Kanyi Wamuyu
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 13  •  2017  •  pp. 117-142

Significant urban digital divide exists in Nairobi County where low income households lack digital literacy skills and do not have access to the internet. The study was undertaken as an intervention, designed to close the digital divide among low income households in Nairobi by introducing internet access using the domestication framework.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have the potential to help reduce social inequality and have been hailed as critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). Skills in use of ICTs have also become a prerequisite for almost all forms of employment and in accessing government services, hence, the need for digital inclusion for all.

In this research study, I employed a mixed methods approach to investigate the problem. This was achieved through a preliminary survey to collect data on the existence of urban digital divide in Nairobi and a contextual analysis of the internet domestication process among the eighteen selected case studies.

While there have been many studies on digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world, within the African continent, among genders and between rural and urban areas at national levels, there are few studies exploring urban digital divide and especially among the marginalized communities living in the low-income urban areas.

Successful domestication of internet and related technologies was achieved among the selected households, and the households appreciated the benefits of having and using the internet for the first time. A number of factors that impede use of internet among the marginalized communities in Nairobi were also identified.

In the study, I found that use of differentiated costs internet services targeting specific demographic groups is possible and that use of such a service could help the marginalized urban communities’ access the internet. Therefore, ISPs should offer special internet access packages for the low-income households.

In this research study, I found that the urban digital divide in Nairobi is an indication of social economic development problems. Therefore, researchers should carryout studies involving multipronged strategies to address the growing digital divide among the marginalized urban communities.

The absence of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) inclusion policy is a huge setback to the achievement of the SDGs in Kenya. Digital inclusion policies prioritizing digital literacy training, universal internet access and to elucidate the social-economic benefits of internet access for all Kenyans should be developed.

Future studies should explore ways of providing affordable mass internet access solutions among the residents of low-income communities and in eliminating the persistence urban digital divide in Kenya.

digital divide, internet domestication, low-income households, digital literacy, Mathare slum
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