Over the past few years and even today, it has been repeatedly pointed by researchers and NGOs through key World Development Indicators that countries with higher internet penetration benefit with higher economic development, freer information and media communication, better educational and healthcare systems, improved democratic participation and overall Quality of Life than the countries with low internet penetration.
The urgent need to bridge the digital divide has been recognized by he United Nations (Frank La Rue, 2011) and countries like Costa Rica (Human Rights Report: Costa Rica, 2011), Estonia (Facts about e-Estonia, 2014), Finland (Finland makes broadband a ‘legal right’, 2010), France (French Court Declares Internet Access ‘Basic Human Right’, 2009), Greece (Article 5, Constitution of Greece, 2008) and Spain (Sarah Morris, 2009); that have created frameworks and policies that consider Internet Access as a fundamental Human Right.
To understand how a society can completely transform itself by enabling internet access for its citizens, Estonia presents a great case study. Estonia, as a country with a population of 1.3 million, has one of the highest technology adoption rates with over 80% of citizens connected to the Internet as on 2013 (World Bank: Internet users (per 100 people), 2014). As Estonia declared Internet access as a human right in 2000 and took the necessary steps to increase Internet penetration with efforts like the Tiger Leap program and EstWin; Estonia enjoyed improved GDP and happiness index rankings. In less than 15 years, Estonia’s GDP grew by 4 times from 5.67 Billion USD in 2000 to 24.47 Billion USD in 2013. In 2013, over a fourth or 27% of services exported by Estonia were ICT based (Word Bank: GDP Ranking, 2014) amounting to 1.48 Billion USD (World Bank: ICT service exports (% of service exports, BoP), 2014). As of 2013, 99.6% of all banking transactions in Estonia were done online (Republic of Estonia – Information Systems Authority (RIA): Facts about e-Estonia, 2014) and in the 2011 elections 15.34% of eligible population voted online (Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon (VV): Statistics on eVoters, 2014).
Most Estonian (and world) researchers, academicians and general citizens believe that the Quality of Life in Estonia has improved as the country implemented and the necessarily ICT measures that transformed a crumpled post-soviet country into a highly advanced digital society.
Numerous studies have repeatedly shown how countries with higher adoption of Internet like Estonia have resulted in better educational systems, improved democracy and government services and higher economic development than countries that were late or non-adopters.
While users in some countries have been able to harness the potential of information technologies to thrive and become a major contender in today’s information economy, others have lagged behind as producers of low-value labor and products for wealthier nations. (Datta, 2011) Read more: https://muftinternet.com/openwiki/initial-literature-review/