Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Conventional wisdom argues that low- and middle-income countries can use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in general, and the Internet and the World-Wide Web in particular, to bridge the income gap with high-income countries. The so-called "digital divide" between the rich and the poor is well documented: inhabitants of rich countries have far greater access to the Internet and other forms of ICT than inhabitants of low-income countries. However, access to technology is only one factor affecting the ability to increase income by using the Web. An equally important factor is the ability to attract traffic to a web site. If the Web is to help economic development, then it is crucial that web sites publicizing investment opportunities, goods, or services attract investors and customers. This paper sets out to determine whether there is a digital divide in web site traffic as well as in access to ICT. The answer, it turns out, is unequivocally "yes", suggesting that the argument that the Web can be used to bridge the income gap between rich and poor countries needs considerable refinement.