Bridging the digital divide: a case study of a collaboration between a metropolitan municipality and a non-profit organisation

Seifert, Natalie (2017-03)

Thesis (MCom)(MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Currently, the human race lives in an era in which technology plays a large role. The latest technological devices, such as computers and smart phones are mostly used in tandem with access to the internet. It is unfortunately also a reality that people who have access to the internet, have the opportunity to further themselves in life, while other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups do not have the same opportunities. This gap is known as the digital divide. Access to the internet does not only mean being in possession of the device that can connect to the internet, but also having the opportunity to acquire the skills and expertise to be able to use the internet. This study focuses on the role of the internet by illustrating how the internet can positively impact a person’s life by linking them to economic and social opportunities. The role of the government to provide internet access to all citizens is also portrayed as a means to render service delivery more efficiently. Lastly, the study highlights the contrast within the digital divide between on the one hand, the positive impact and beneficial elements of having access to the internet and on the other hand, the negative effect and disadvantages it creates for individuals and consequently also for society as a whole. The municipality in this study, in cooperation with a non-profit organisation, formed a partnership by utilising government resources in its responsibility as a service provider to provide internet access to its residents. This innovative initiative was made possible by the use of a supposed cost effective model and the cooperation of other companies which have acknowledged the importance of internet connectivity to as many people as possible. The findings in this study are based on information from and behavioural patterns of the users’ who make use of the service provided by the abovementioned initiative. Recommendations were made to both the municipality and the non-profit organisation in accordance to the users' behavioural preferences and how the service can be improved to reach more users. This study can be referred to as a step toward success in the digital history of South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die mens lewe tans in 'n tydperk waar tegnologie ‘n groot rol speel. Elektroniese toestelle, soos rekenaars en slimfone gaan meestal hand aan hand met die internet. Dit is ongelukkig ook 'n realiteit dat mense wat toegang tot die internet het, die geleentheid het om hulleself te verryk en moontlik hulle loopbane te verbeter, terwyl ander kwesbare en minderbevoorregte groepe nie daardie geleenthede het nie. Hierdie gaping staan bekend as die digitale kloof. Toegang tot die internet beteken nie net om die toestel te besit om toegang tot die internet te verkry nie, maar ook om die vermoë te hê en kundigheid te bekom om die internet te kan gebruik. Hierdie studie fokus op die rol van die internet deur te illustreer hoe die internet mense se lewens positief kan impakteer deur aan hulle geleenthede tot die verbetering van hulle ekonomiese en sosiale lewens te bied. Die rol en verantwoordelikheid van die regering om toegang tot die internet vir so veel as moontlik mense moontlik te maak en om 'n effektiewe diens aan landsburgers te lewer, word ook uitgebeeld. In kontras met die positiewe impak wat toegang tot die internet op mense se lewens kan hê, verwys hierdie studie dan ook na die negatiewe gevolge van die digitale kloof op individue en gevolglik ook op die samelewing as 'n geheel. Die munisipaliteit in hierdie studie, in samewerking met ‘n nie-winsgewende organisasie, het die verantwoordelikheid van die regering as diensverskaffer opgeneem en saamgewerk om toegang tot die internet aan hulle inwoners te verskaf. Hierdie vindingryke inisiatief is moontlik gemaak deur die gebruik van ‘n koste-effektiewe model in samewerking met ander ondernemings wat die belangrikheid van die internet in die lewe van mense raakgesien het. Die bevindinge in hierdie studie is gegrond op inligting en gedragspatrone van die gebruikers in hulle gebruik van bogenoemde inisiatief se diens. Aanbevelings is aan beide die munisipaliteit en die nie-winsgewende organisasie gemaak na aanleiding van die gebruikers se gedragsvoorkeure en hoe die diens meer gebruikers kan betrek. Hierdie studie kan beskou word as ‘n stap na sukses in die uitwissing van die digitale kloof in Suid Afrika.

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