This report is guided by two central truths. One: digital technologies are rapidly revolutionising many aspects of life as we know it. Two: not everyone benefits from access and effective usage of these technologies. Women, people with low levels of education, people living in poverty, and rural communities often benefit less from the great opportunities of digital technology. Unless we are deliberate about empowering these already marginalised groups to participate in our increasingly digital economies, societies and political systems, new digital opportunities may only magnify inequality and exclusion.

Key findings:

  • As basic services become increasingly digitalised globally, there is a risk that disadvantage will become further entrenched as the marginalised are left further behind. It's critical to consider how people actually use digital services. Digital exclusion – both in terms of access and usage – is real. Digital inclusion matters.
  • Access is becoming more a problem of economics than geography. As coverage becomes almost universal, the challenge is less about the “last mile” – but about finding business models that make it profitable to serve the lowest income consumers.
  • The choices made by businesses and governments will shape digital access and usage. These 'digital architectures' can alter and manipulate peoples' digital lives.
  • Government, the private sector and civil society must establish the rules and norms to shape inclusive digital architectures that benefit people living in poverty and marginalised men and women.
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