Bridging the digital divide in the East African Region : a need for a joint policy framework
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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) continues to have a significant impact on the lives of people and the global economy and also gives rise to a host of important issues. One major unanswered question at the national and internationel level is whether the use of information technologies leads to increasing disparities within and among developing countries. This paper gives an analysis of current efforts taken to enhance ICT utilization in the East African region (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda). Noting that the Ievel of ICT utilisation in the region is still low, a model for joint policy frame work implementation to help itttpt,ove the current status quo is proposed. Current national ICT policies that have been drafted (or being drafted) in the region to address the issues related to digital divide are reviewed. The paper focuses on exploring new contemporary approaches at national and international level to address the issues of the digital divide problem. Information was collected ortline from major stakeholders directly involved in efforts to address the digital divide in the region and analysis was made in relation to the different policy instruments that exist. From the analysis, it was found that virtually all the countries in the region were more or less at the policy formulation level. Unlike other development strategies that are being impressed by different countries in the region, the paper demonstrotes that individual countries' initiiatives to tackle the complex problems of the digital divide will yield better results if jointly implemented. Therefore, sharing resources and experiences are necessity, f iffurts towards the problem are to realize concrete benefits. The paper recommends, among others, that countries in the region planning to bridge the digital divide must not only draw up ICT policies but provide for execution mechanisms at ground level of playingfields.