Year: 2021 | Month: September | Volume 10 | Issue 3

The Digital Divide and Demand for Internet Services by Middle-aged Adults in Mankweng Township in Limpopo Province South Africa

Carol Lesame Letta Leopeng
DOI:10.46852/2249-6637.03.2021.1

Abstract:

This study assessed the demand for internet services by middle-aged adults in Mankweng township in Limpopo Province of South Africa. The study was conducted in two parts of the township (Units B & F). The aim of the study was to assess the demand for internet services by middle-aged adults and to establish the underlying challenges faced by these adults related to accessing the internet during the Covid-19 pandemic era. The research was conducted by assessing the level of internet access, and evaluating socio-economic aspects influencing the use of the internet by the sampled people. Qualitative research was used to conduct the study and interviews were the data collection method. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was executed to analyse data. The findings revealed that most middle-aged adults are aware of internet services but experienced digital divide challenges of internet access and use. Internet access and usage are still low in Mankweng. This study offers recommendations for improving the awareness, adoption and use of internet services by these adults to enable them to work from home (WFH), access e-health and e-learning services.

Highlights

  • The digital divide is a stark reality in South Africa, despite more than half of adults in the country now having internet access
  • With Wi-Fi networks available and accessed in certain areas, the majority of people in deep rural areas and some townships find it difficult to access the internet despite its universal access.
  • Adults in Unit B with broadband connection in the dwelling, access the internet using their smartphones and computers.
  • Out of 20 participants, only four had home based internet access, 16 out of 20 participants (80% of sample) moaned about expensive data - they cannot afford data because it is too expensive.
  • Demand for internet services is high among adults of this township but that demand is not supported by economic power to pay for access to and use of advanced internet services.
  • Digital technology and its attendant culture contribute to the exacerbation of social inequalities, because not everyone has equal access to such technology and even among those who do, not everyone is equally competent in using it. Unequal access or unequal competence thus create classes of information haves and information have-nots.




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