Social Inequalities and the South African ICT Access Policy Agendas

Toks Dele Oyedemi


This paper discusses how social disparities and inequalities affect access to ICTs. It analyzes the historical and social contexts of the current state of inequalities in South Africa, and locates access to ICTs within this framework. It then explores how the South African government, through public policies, has attempted to tackle the issue of access to ICTs. The study of some of these policies reveals the shortfall of many access programs. While the intentions of the policies may be proclaimed as reflecting public interests and social good, the tendency to lean toward a neoliberal free market strategy often hampers access programs in many instances. This paper argues that other social forces, such as poverty and social inequalities, confront most of the access programs, and render these programs ineffective. It affirms that while access policies are of good intentions, aggressively pursuing policies that address social inequalities which work in tandem with access programs, are equally essential.

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