Managing distance: poverty and rural telecommunications access and use in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Abstract

This article examines rural telecommunications access and use among poor village households in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Discussion is based upon a content analysis of 165 telephone calls, as well as a broader information and communication technology (ICT) ownership, access and use survey undertaken in 50 poor households within a number of rural villages in the Mount Frere district. These data are complimented and supported by qualitative data emerging from a longer-term UK Department for International Development-funded study of ICT use and social communication practices among the urban and rural poor in South Africa. The purpose of the article is to: (i) question existing notions of telecommunications access; (ii) assess the extent to which rural inequalities are exacerbated or ameliorated by telecommunications access; and (iii) examine the extent to which telecommunications are enlisted as a strategic tool by poor households for maintaining kin-based redistributive networks and enhancing livelihood sustainability.

This article is based onInformation Society Research Group Working Paper 1.

Citation

Skuse, A.; Cousins, T. Managing Distance: Rural Poverty and the Promise of Communication in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Journal of Asian and African Studies (2007) 42 (2) 185-207. [DOI: 10.1177/0021909607074867]

Managing distance: poverty and rural telecommunications access and use in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.