The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has grown relatively rapidly in most urban areas in Africa. Five years ago, only a handful of countries had local Internet access, now it is available in every capital city. In the same period more mobile cell phones were deployed on the continent than the number of fixed lines laid in the last century. Hundreds of new local and community radio stations have been licensed, and satellite TV is now also widely available.
However, the digital divide is still at its most extreme in Africa, WHERE the use of ICTs is still at a very early stage of development compared to other regions of the world. Of the approximately 816 million people in Africa in 2001, it is estimated that only:
The access to new technologies has widened the gap between the North and the South. Especially the Least Developed Countries (LDC), many of which are in Africa, are more and more marginalized. They often are excluded from the International decision process regarding ICT infrastructures, the access to information and the legal framework.
In Africa, volunteers are playing an important role in bridging the divide between those who do have access to information and those who do not.