South Africa Technology Divide Thesis

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South Africa Tech Divide

South Africa the Technology Divide

South Africa the Technology Divide: Economic & Cultural Disparity"

The development of a massive technology divide is not an isolated issue in any nation, but some nations are at particular risk and in particularly dire straights. This work discusses the technology divide in South Africa, focusing on both the problem itself, barriers to technology spread and lastly some solutions that are and will help the problem in the future. Though South Africa may be ahead in it development, with regard to other African nations it is seriously lagging in this area in a global comparison. Globalization and it emphasis and focus in business will dictate that every nation, if it is going to compete in the global market, will need to address this issue and expose many more people to technology training, including but not limited to internet access and understanding.

"South Africa the Technology Divide: Economic & Cultural Disparity"

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Information technology is a hot topic issue in many global environments as the possibilities and advances that are being made as a result of such technology are significant to social, political, and economic development in every way. Those nations who are behind in addressing a technology divide will likely also be behind in the development of global prepared workforces and foreign investment in business. South Africa is one of those nations, as traditional social, economic and racial divides continue to plague the nation in unforeseen areas and disadvantaged peoples are at serious risk of never having the kind of preparedness they need to do anything but the most menial tasks.

Thesis on South Africa Technology Divide Assignment

Though South Africa may be ahead of its African continental neighbors with regard to the development of Information technology the nation still has a significant way to go with regard to addressing the technology divide that separates urban and rural areas, as well as people of lower means to those of higher means, a historically racist infrastructure associated with hundreds of years of black oppression.

Hundley, Anderson, Bikson & Neu, 2003, p. xxxvii) This type of technology divide, i.e. between urban and rural sites and economically advantaged and disadvantaged individuals is universal to all nations, as those who are without the extendible income or the infrastructure to do so are less likely that those who do to have and use technology, but especially personal computers. Yet, in South Africa this divide is decidedly colored. "Only 1.8% of Black-African households own a computer -- limiting access to technology and information." (Ferreira & Bayat, 2005, p. 15)

The real situation is that hardly any change has taken place in the relations of economic power and control. Moreover, in the foreseeable future and in terms of the prevailing system, no such fundamental change is to be expected. With hardly any exceptions, the sources of economic power remain in the hands that controlled them under apartheid.

(Alexander, 2003, p. 146)

Though, you will find that in nations (other than the U.S. And Europe, who are ahead of the curve) technology is available on a pay as you go service in public places such as internet cafes or sometimes for free in libraries, yet even something as simple as electricity often eludes the poorest of public spaces like libraries in poor locations in South Africa.

The challenges are also technological. South Africa's libraries exhibit a range of technological capacities. Such innovations as PCs, LANs, library automation, and access to online networks are taken for granted by library users and staff in libraries serving privileged communities. Libraries serving many other communities have to make do without electricity or telephones. This situation holds the danger that an information gap can arise between the sophisticated and unsophisticated libraries and between the historically privileged and disadvantaged groups they serve. Investment in information technology is impeded by the declining value of South Africa's currency. Hence a gap may develop between more and less affluent institutions of higher education and research. The Internet appears to offer low-cost solutions to overcome barriers to access, but as the connected elite increasingly rely on it for communication, the unconnected are all the more handicapped. Paradoxically, electronic technology has the potential both to eliminate barriers and to exacerbate the gap between the information-rich and the information-poor, within and between nations.(92) (Lor, 1996, p. 235)Like South Africa, libraries are thought to be in transition. There are technological challenges: electronic networks, disembodied information, virtual libraries.(1) Libraries worldwide are challenged by economic and social forces.(2)

Like many institutions in the post-apartheid South Africa the social and cultural issues of division are still very much a dividing line, and though libraries have been a constant in the attempt to eradicate the technology divide in other nations. Libraries in other nations have been integral in the attempt to bring, to the poor access to technology, for free that they otherwise would have no access to. South Africa's divided nation offers challenges to libraries and other institutions that harkens back to much older divisions and challenges, i.e. those of aparthied.

The literature is replete with exhortations for the reconceptualization and repositioning of libraries, which must adapt to these changes or go the way of the dinosaurs.(3)Thus, South Africa's libraries can be seen as being involved in two transitions. Along with libraries elsewhere, they are entering the white water of information technology. As social institutions they are molded by the forces at work in South African society. Our revolution brings with it massive changes in social relations, political power bases, governmental structures and financing, and in the clientele and conceptualization of social services and institutions. In this period of change, are South Africa's libraries at the forefront? Are they being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future? Or are they quietly and benevolently being neglected? A further question arises. Does the story of libraries in South Africa have something to contribute to an understanding of libraries worldwide? Could America learn something from our experience? (Lor, 1996, p. 235)

Libraries are clearly not the only answer, though they are a starting point, education is an essential aspect of spreading technology to those who will serve as future leaders. These future leaders require advanced exposure to technology, especially in a growing global economy, for South Africa to continue to be a location of investment and technology interest, by its own companies and those of foreign nations, often integral in advanced development of nations. This work will discuss the issue of the technology divide in South Africa first by identifying the scope of the problem, then by detailing the many obstacles and barriers associated with eradicating the technology divide and finally by offering solutions that are being utilized to chip away at this problem.

Scope of the Problem

It has already been said that black South African families are at an extreme disadvantage with regard to the ownership and use of personal computers. Many are also challenged by infrastructural issues, such as inadequate housing, lack of telephone lines and also electricity. With these problems also come the overall or global investment of South Africa in it, technology, in general. Anderson, Bikson & Neu point out that the technology divide in South Africa runs much deeper than a simple lack of personal computers or telephones, or even free access at libraries and schools:

in 1998 Africa had just 4% of the world's Internet hosts and 0.22% of World Wide Web sites, with more than half of these being in South Africa, even though it has 12% of the world's population. One must also remember how poor Africa is in general: The wealthiest 15 individuals in the world, taken together, have a greater net worth than all of sub-Saharan Africa.Africa's it problems are not primarily technical; they involve the following factors of culture, competence, capital, and control:

Cultural factors such as language, nationalism, stratification, legal framework, vertical authority relationships, trust, meritocracy, and concept of information complicate and impede the spread and use of information technology in Africa.

It takes an educated populace to know how to bring it to those who most need it. Africa is lacking in this area.

In many sub-Saharan countries, financial and physical capital (electric power and telecommunications) are lacking.

The agencies of control in sub-Saharan African countries -- governments, militaries, religious organizations, the private sector -- often impede it development. In spite of these impediments, there are positive indications that the information revolution is moving forward in Africa. However, two additional factors may indirectly impede progress

The HIV / AIDS epidemic in Africa, which has become the biggest threat to the continent's development.

In the post-9/11 era, much of the world's attention and resources will be focused elsewhere. For all these reasons, it is likely that information technology improvements will continue in Africa, but the region will continue to fall further behind much of the rest of the world during the next several decades.

Hundley, Anderson, Bikson & Neu, 2003, p. xxxviii)

Anderson, Bikson & Neu also point out that older technology, assumed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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South Africa Technology Divide.  (2008, December 1).  Retrieved August 6, 2020, from

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"South Africa Technology Divide."  1 December 2008.  Web.  6 August 2020. <>.

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"South Africa Technology Divide."  December 1, 2008.  Accessed August 6, 2020.