The Digital Divide in Asia: Challenges and Solutions

Prof. Ravi S. Sharma,
Apoorva Suryanarayanan,
Ms Intan Azura Mokhtar
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The UN / ITU joint declaration on moving towards an information society has put in place infrastructure targets in tele-density and access. And indeed, in much of the Asia Pacific, impressive gains have been made over the past 5 years in achieving universality and affordability in telecommunications services, particularly in the mobile sectors of China, India and Indonesia. An enterprise-oriented regulatory regime is one pillar of this growth. Cultivating user communities is the other pillar. Empowering the mass market with information literacy skills is yet another. In this talk, we shall review the major trends in the prolific growth of telecommunications in the major markets of the region and outline some of the best practices that have been adopted by regulators and user communities. Among these, addressing the digital divide between haves and have-nots in the various communities. We then summarize some key challenges for policy makers and private enterprise in the information society and for strengthening the knowledge economy and directing efficient investments. Finally, we draw some policy framework analyses which aid in the establishment of an infrastructure as well as macro applications that are universal, affordable and relevant, explaining why this is a critical element of any information or knowledge society.

Keywords: Digital Divide, Information Society, Enabling Technologies, Policy Framework, Knowledge Economy
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Bridging the Digital Divide in Asia

Prof. Ravi S. Sharma

Associate Professor, School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University

Ravi S Sharma is presently Director (India Strategy) and Adjunct Associate Professor of the Communication and Information of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His teaching, consulting and research interests are in telecommunications best practices and strategies. As consulting engagements, he served as telco industry advisor to Frost and Sullivan's technology practice in the Asia Pacific, Vice-President of the Homeportal Inc. presence in Asia, and business advisor to startups such as Nexlabs, webflo, Comwerks and AIT Academy. Prior to this, Ravi was the Asean Communications Industry Principal at IBM Global Services and before that, Director of the Multimedia Competency Centre of Deutsche Telekom Asia. He has worked in the area of advanced communications technologies for over 15 years and his work has appeared in leading journals, conferences, trade publications and the broadcast media. Ravi received his PhD in engineering from the University of Waterloo and is a Chartered Engineer (UK) and a Senior Member of the IEEE. He is an associate editor of the IEEE Communications Surveys and sits on various technical and professional boards.

Apoorva Suryanarayanan

Graduate Student, School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University

Apoorva Suryanarayanan is a final year Masters candidate at the Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), majoring in Information Management. Born and brought up in India, she came to Singapore to pursue a Computing (Information Systems) degree at the National University of Singapore. She has accumulated useful industry experiences in handling a variety of information-products and services in the Market Research, Banking, IT and Educational industries so far, that has kindled a passion in her to be constantly placed in an information intensive environment. An associate member of the Singapore Information and Knowledge Management Society, Apoorva's interests are in electronic document management, business intelligence and information standards and policies.

Ms Intan Azura Mokhtar

PhD Candidate, School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University

Intan Azura Mokhtar is currently a doctoral research student in Information Studies in the School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Her research is on information literacy pedagogy with a specific focus in the K-12 school curriculum. She was a secondary school teacher in Singapore for four and a half years before joining the PhD programme. She can be contacted via email at

Ref: T05P0068