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AFRIK-IT  September 2000

AFRIK-IT September 2000

Subject:

Re: Please advise on South Africa

From:

Leo Van Audenhove <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Fri, 8 Sep 2000 09:33:17 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (87 lines)

>Hi
>
>I am planning on undertaking a Masters in Arts degree in 2001. My
>background is media studies, journalism and the Internet.
>
>I have been planning a research topic focussing on telecentres and their
>impact on communities but a search of the National Research Foundation
>Website (http://www.nrf.ac.za) revealed that a very similar project is
>already under way.
>
>I am determined to take on a project that focusses on the media and its
>potential for upliftment through current ICT developments. However, I do
>not want to limit myself to this. I was also considering an analysis of
>Telkom SA's ICT policy in light of it bridging the digital divide.
>
>I would appreciate any suggestions that would help me formulate a
>relevant, and most importantly, useful research topic. I look forward to
>your replies.


Hi Sean,

I am a PHD-student trying to finish my Phd on telecommunications
policy in South Africa. The problem with the telecentres is that a
lot of research has been done on the subject. One of the more
interesting reports of the last year is the Telecentre 2000 study by
Peter Benjamin and Aki Stavrou (parts of it are on the internet at
http://www.sn.apc.org/community/), which more or less comes to the
conclusion that they don't seem to work. What could be interesting in
this area is to look at what the Government Communications and
Information Services GCIS is doing in terms of Multi-Purpose
Community Centres MPCCs. Their concept of telecentres is more closely
linked with the concept you find in the 1996 Comtask report. In stead
of focussing on the technical aspects of telecentres (what the USA
has done), they seem to focus on bringing services such as access to
information, health, welfare, etc. together in one place and than ad
on an ICT component e.g. through installing a telecentre. Would be
interesting to see if it works. Problem is that they have only
installed three of them, but they are planning to install 20 by the
end of the year. One of the crucial things in terms of telecentre is
that we assume two things 1) people actively search for information,
2) the information they search for is there in an accessible form.
Both of them are highly questionable and government has to formulate
policy in both areas if it is to stimulate the adoption and use of
ICTs. To my knowledge SA is lacking policy initiatives in these areas.

As for your idea on Telkom's ICT policy in light of bridging the
digital divide is concerned. South Africa has since 1996 followed a
dual policy in terms of universal service. It has first  tried to
extend basic telephony and second tried to broaden access to services
e.g. the internet.  Telkom has been instrumental in the first one in
terms of its licence obligations. In this area SA has in my view lost
enormous oppotunities in terms of using mobile or forcing the mobile
operators to help extend the network. As for the second the focus has
been on broadening access through the installation of telecentres,
Public Information Terminals (post office), Wills, etc. Most of these
initiatives are started by the Department of Communications (also
through the USA). The role of Telkom in all these initiatives is
limited and I would be suprised if they would start providing these
services in the future. As far as I know their attempt to install
small telecentre-type offices has run into a lot of problems. Vodacom
seems to be doing a lot better with its Phoneshops. They are
gradually upgrading them by installing computers and printers in some
of them (The last could be interesting as a research-subject I think).

kind regards


Leo Van Audenhove


PS you also should try to take up contact with the IDRC, they have
been instrumental in a lot of things going on in SA


------------------------------------------------------------------
Leo Van Audenhove
SMIT Studies on Media, Information and Telecommunication
Vrije Universiteit Brussel-Free University Brussels
Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel Office: ++32.2.6292415 - Fax ++32.2.6292861
Tel Home: ++32.9.245.68.09
Cell: ++32.479/753236
E-mail:  [log in to unmask] or [log in to unmask]
http://www.vub.ac.be/SCOM/smit/smit.html
------------------------------------------------------------------

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