Building the evidence on the least connected in South Africa: Case of Alfred Nzo

“Vision

A self sustainable municipality that guarantees effective and efficient rural development

 Mission

Creating a conducive environment by improving human capabilities and enhancing relevant skills, and maximizing the utilisation of natural resources in order to improve quality of life for its communities”-Alfred Nzo District Municipality

The vision and mission statement of Alfred Nzo District Municipality, located on the north-eastern side of the Province of the Eastern Cape, shows a municipality ready to enhance itself by all means. Unfortunately, opportunities provided by the internet to respond to this seem out of reach for the community. In the 2017/18 telecommunications budget speech, presented by Minister Ncwele in May, Alfred Nzo was listed among ten district municipalities with the least access to the internet. The rest being Amatole, UKhahlamba, Sekhukhune, O.R. Tambo, UMzinyathi, Sisonke, Dr. Ruth Mompati, Chris Hani, Pixley ka Seme and Vhembe District Municipalities. The reasons for not having access to home or mobile internet includes:

  • 38% lacks skills or confidence,
  • 35% Lacks relevant content or the need for use, and
  • 20.9% due to high costs.

 

The state of broadband in South Africa highlights a two-sided experience. While households in the Western Cape enjoy the ability to connect to both mobile and landlines at 22%, the Northern Cape fares worst for households with no form of communication at all, at 9,7%. This is based on the most recent findings of the STATSSA General household survey results conducted between January and December 2016. The ten district municipalities benefit the least from the opportunities that result from internet access and use.

To meet the national development plan targets by 2020, these concerns need to be strategically addressed. Research ICT Africa (RIA) has pledged through the DTPS/ World Economic Forum (WEF) Internet for All initiative in South Africa to provide nuanced evidence, through research, to strategically address these issues and provide the necessary rigorous evidence for policy making. There are two enumerators areas that have come up in the Alfred Nzo district in the Beyond Access household and individual surveys that RIA is current conducting with iKapadata in South Africa.  The surveys are being conducted in 12 African countries in total in 2017/18. South Africa’s data collection is currently taking place.

The in-depth questionnaire seeks to identify the “Beyond Access” constraints on Internet access and particularly use. All the traditional ICT indicators, fixed line, mobile phone, voice services and data will still be collected. The diverse areas of focus include but are not limited to:

  • assessing gender inequality;
  • affordability, user strategies to access services – zero rated services, social media use;
  • use of free public Wi-Fi, community networks;
  • barriers to use – affordability, skills, relevant content, language, literacy;
  • use of public information and government services online;
  • mobile money and online transacting;
  • cybersecurity and rights online awareness –  trust, freedom of expression, privacy, surveillance;
  • extent and nature of microwork (including gender)

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