Nearly half of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, lack internet access according to a 2021 United Nations Report. A majority of them women, and most in developing countries, are still offline. This inequality in access to the internet and ICT is called the digital divide.
According to data taken from the Internet portal World Stats as of March 2021, in Africa, only 43.2 % of its inhabitants had Internet access, compared to 88.2 % of Europeans and 93.9 % of Americans.
Locally, 44% of the urban population is reported to have access to the internet compared to 17% in rural areas (below average) as reported in the World Banks 20th edition of the Kenya Economic Update: Securing Future Growth.
From artificial intelligence to blockchain and the Internet of Things, digital technologies have truly transformative potential. They augment human capacity, open new frontiers of productivity, and provide new opportunities for people and societies. Lack of bridging the divide leads to widespread gaps in basic digital skills which limit wider usage and application of digital tools, and services. Gaps in advanced digital skills limit business development.
While several critical reforms are being implemented to bridge the gap, the creation of smart homes by innovation leaders such as LG Electronics stands out as a more unique approach and solution to the problem. According to the 2021 LG ThinQ Smart Home Report, Smart home technologies are narrowing the digital divide for older, less tech-savvy consumers and transforming users’ daily routines across ages and regardless of technological insight for the better.
For instance, the smart washing machine function recognizes clothing fabrics so that it can clean clothing without damaging them. It can even order items like detergent and fabric softener automatically. The smart refrigerators can be controlled and monitored through the LG smart mobile application while the Smart TVs can be voice-controlled or in some cases maximize screen sections by upto 500% making it ideal for people with voice impairment or physically disabled. This not only shows LG’s commitment to innovation but also inclusiveness.
On remote control and voice command features, users, including the older generation and those considered digital illiterate can do lots of things without using their hands. For instance, one can check on their food items expiration dates or check on their wash cycle from another room.
“We have made it our commitment to breaking the digital divide by making more accessible home technology. This means ending up with smart homes that are meaningful not only for the young generation that is considered digital literate but also for the elderly who spend more time at home with house chores. Our smart home features not only offer easy access to elaborate new appliances, but also an easy way to access and use such technology, even for generations that are not accustomed to digital trends”. Said LG Electronics East Africa Managing Director, Sa Nyoung Kim.