Unsurprisingly, the survey found that educational attainment was related to ICT inequality.
Three-quarters of people residing in Kuwait have no more than a high school education, the report said, citing Kuwaiti government statistics. For them, issues relating to access, skills, and outcomes pose serious obstacles to digital equality, it said.
By place of origin, Kuwaitis reported the highest digital social skills (35%) and Filipino expatriates the lowest (28%). Other groups and the share of them reporting confidence in their digital social skills were Indians (33%), other Asian expatriates (32%), and Arab expatriates (30%).
Kuwait’s status as an expatriate-majority state carries both benefits and challenges that are of relevance to socio-digital development.
The benefits include the availability of diverse, abroad-trained skillsets, technological competencies, and an almost universal digital marketplace created by the high demand for information and communication technologies.
The challenges include a lack of incentives for labour-based competition among locals, economic marginalisation of expatriate communities, lower overall levels of education, and language and cultural barriers that complicate both the social distribution of digital outcomes as well as the ability to measure them effectively.
Motives and Barriers
Information-seeking was the primary reason people gave when asked what they used digital technologies for. Other motives were to stay connected with others, to seek entertainment, for occupational use, and to share original content.
Women were more likely than men to use ICTs for study or work, though their satisfaction with the associated outcomes in this area were lower.
The study also highlighted a few negative barriers to using ICTs. Men (76%) were more concerned than women that technologies contributed to declining social relations, while women were significantly more likely to express concerns about online harassment and bullying.
To address negative motivators, the study recommends promoting a balance between online and offline activities through media-literacy training in schools and creating a regulatory environment that protects those most vulnerable to online dangers.
This regulatory environment should be aligned with global best practices for data protection, privacy, and cybersecurity, it says.
[Enjoying this article? Subscribe to our free newsletter.]
To improve access conditions for the most marginalised communities, the report recommends providing more diverse opportunities for public access, in terms of both Internet connectivity and device availability.
It also calls for initiatives focused on media literacy education, ICT skills, and content creation training, especially for older populations and those with the lowest education levels.
It also recommends greater involvement of women and expatriates in the planning and design of ICT services, platforms, and content to better ensure that their needs are being adequately addressed.