Briefing Paper

Lagging ICT Adoption in SA Reflects Social and Economic Inequalities

Increasing Internet connections suggest a bridging of the digital divide yet, as more people are connected, digital inequality paradoxically increases. Inequality exists not only between people online and offline, but also between those who have the skills and financial resources to use the Internet optimally, and those who do not. Without policy interventions to reduce these disparities offline inequalities will simply be mirrored online – or potentially even amplified. Many individuals and
households do not use the Internet or do not have the devices to access the Internet. The survey findings indicate that technological forms of exclusion are a reality for significant segments of the South African population, and that digital exclusion reinforces and deepens existing social exclusion reflected in low income, unemployment, poor education and social isolation.