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A couple of days ago I commented on Computer Security Day. Today we’re back to computers, but this time the issue is way more fundamental – today is World Computer Literacy Day.

Celebrated for the first time in 2001 in India, the day has since expanded to an international initiative. Computer literacy relates to the ability to comfortably use computers and related information and communications technologies (ICTs). Some of the key issues impacting computer literacy include basic access to ICT, and the ability to use these technologies in your own language.

Promoting computer literacy and connectivity in the developing world is critical in creating economic opportunities for all.(© All Rights Reserved)

Promoting computer literacy and connectivity in the developing world is critical in creating economic opportunities for all.
(© All Rights Reserved)

In an attempt to raise awareness about the plight of those who are not privileged enough to have access to computers, Irish charity organisation Camara Education has launched a challenge to those of us for whom ICT is a part of everyday life, to go without technology for 24 hours. Through this initiative, known as ‘Techfast’, they hope to highlight the digital divide that still exists in the world today.

Being connected always and everywhere, it is easy to forget that the global digital village we are part of really isn’t that global at all, with ICT and computer literacy very much concentrated in developed countries. While we get treated to high speed, low cost Internet, the developing world continues to lag further and further behind.

There are positive examples in the developing world where the digital divide is actively being addressed. While countries like Ethiopia and Zambia still have less than 2% of the population connected to the Internet, the situation in Kenya, for example, looks very different – from 2009 to 2010 the percentage of Internet users have increased from 10% to 26%. A massive digital boom indeed, and one which is reported to also be providing an economic boost to the country.

While I often wonder whether 24/7 connectivity is a blessing or a curse, the fact of the matter is that, to participate in the global economy, connectivity and computer literacy is of paramount importance.

While you’re comfortably browsing through your blog roll on your high-speed internet connection, spare a thought on World Computer Literacy Day for those who are not as technologically privileged.

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