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Type Journal Article - Information, Communication and Society
Title Information society and digital divide in South Africa: Results of longitudinal surveys
Volume 19
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 1-15
Integration into the information society implies that information plays an increasingly important role in all sectors of society and holds distinct social and economic benefits. Discourses on the information society are, however, also associated with the digital divide and inequalities in access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Within sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is often regarded as one of the most information-integrated societies due to widespread mobile phone ownership, among other things. However, while ICT access has been emphasized, research also points to the role of demographic, socio-economic and cultural factors such as ethnicity, income, education and gender. This article discusses the results of questionnaire surveys conducted by Afrobarometer among probability South African samples in 2008 and 2011. The results indicate that individual Internet use and mobile Internet access were lower than estimated in the literature. Furthermore, gender gaps, as well as considerable gaps between population groups and educational levels, were found in Internet and computer use, mobile ownership and access to mobile Internet and accessing news via the Internet. Conclusions regarding strategies for bridging the digital divide and integrating South Africa into the information society are discussed.

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