Papa Owusu-Kwarteng

Papa Owusu-Kwarteng

I am currently a doctoral student in Educational Technology, at the Patton College of Education. My research interests include,
the 2nd and 3rd level Digital Divide,
Technology Access in economically challenged areas ( Africa, Appalachia Ohio)
E-sports in Africa.

My past professional experiences including being the project manager for Play Soccer International (Appalachia) and Director of Ohio University Upward Bound federally funded program , in Athens, Ohio.

 

Esports, Africa and the continuing digital divide

The digital divide in technology has moved beyond the primary access point to a more nuanced boundary some categorize as secondary access or divide (Helsper, 2012; van Deursen & van Dijk, 2015; Warschauer & Matuchniak, 2010).

One area that is being extensively affected by technology has been sports. As technology has changed and continues to change, traditional broadcast models and engagement with sports continues to evolve at a rapid rate (Akindes, 2017). This change has included the explosion in online digital rights, the consolidation of rights and the growth of formerly niche sports like competitive video gaming also known as ESports (Master & Pike, 2017; Repucom, 2014).

With this continued change to a more digital and more engaged audience, Africa continues to be left behind in various ways including in the digital sphere which is emerging. Nowhere is this more evident than in Esports (Econet Media, n.d.; Fripp, 2017; Kleinman, 2017).

While the level of engagement digitally in sports especially football through social media is growing, (Repucom, 2014), for Esports, there are no African countries represented in the top ten participation or engagement metrics according to Nielsen Sports. This glaring digital divide or chasm is understandable and even predicted due to several offline issues as theorized by various academics (Attewell, 2001; Büchi, Just, & Latzer, 2016; Helsper, 2012; Warschauer & Matuchniak, 2010).

For Africa and the wider world, the questions that need to be asked include What are the economic costs to African societies for being cut out from these expanding economies? In addition, what are the social and infrastructure costs? This paper identifies what the digital divide is, the secondary divide/access, ESports and its participation, the economic impact and the offline factors that might be limiting participation in this space by Africans.

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