Technology Access Centres and Community Development: The Case of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa
AbstractThe World Bank has in the past reported a 70 per cent failure rate of their information and communication (ICT) for Development (ICT4D) projects in many countries that they establish ICT projects at (Leung, 2013). South Africa as well has several examples of failed ICT4D projects of centres (Benjamin, 2003), especially during the first 10 years of the democratic dispensation (1994-2004). However, the second decade of democracy (2004 to 2014) has experienced better performance by ICT centres and better attempts at using ICT for community development. During this last decade, South Africans, stirred by the reality of the first failed telecentres, changed tactics and development strategies in processes of implementing ICT4D. These technology access centres, also known as e-centres, are now establishing for teaching citizens problem-focused ICT skills to address socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, illiteracy, and poverty. E-centres focus on education and health initiatives. This article describes two successful and one failed ICT4D projects that these two researchers conducted research on from 2012 to 2013, in a study that researched a few ICT centres in four South African Provinces (viz., the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng). This paper, however, provides details of ICT4D centres located in the Eastern Cape Province as data from all four provinces is vast and is best reported in a few publications, for recording and comparative reasons. Data were collected through personal interviews of persons using the ICT centres and also semiotic analysis of selected online videos on the ICT centres for elaborate information about the centre due to the fact that not many centre users were found at the centres by the researchers during site visits. Thematic analysis was implemented to analyze collected data.
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