Overcoming the digital divide? : Africa and the information society with special reference to Lesotho

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

This thesis investigates whether the Internet is reducing or eliminating poverty and whether the Internet is the provider of fast-based information for development. It explores the concept of the information society, the information revolution, and the Internet, to provide a framework for understanding the information society in Africa, and in particular, Lesotho. Increasingly the information revolution, the Internet, is said to be shaping our lives. Globalisation and the new economy are driven by the Internet and social and economic development results from the Internet. The Internet, it is suggested, will enable Africa to "leapfrog" stages of economic and social development. The examples held up to Mrica as models of the use of information and communications technology are the East Asian "Tigers", India's cybertowers and Silicon Valley in California, the United States. These are examined in detail. The question of inclusion and exclusion in the information society is explored and whether the Internet is creating another divide - the digital divide. A historical sequence of meetings, conferences and events that have attempted to include Mrica in the information society is outlined. Statistics of telecommunication and Internet provision in Africa are included. These statistics show that the lack of telecommunications that is the method of accessing the Internet results in the lack of Internet provision in Africa contributing to the growing digital divide. The detailed case study of Lesotho situated in its historical, economic and social context, investigates the extent of telecommunication and Internet development in Lesotho. The conclusions presented are that while the Internet can contribute to some social and economic development it is not reducing or eliminating poverty. This is shown in the case study of Lesotho. This thesis presents evidence of a growing digital divide in society between the information haves and have-nots. Because of the critical role of the Internet in the new economy and globalisation, without the Internet there will be fewer possibilities for social and economic development. Therefore the digital divide is an additional factor contributing to poverty and inequality resulting in greater exclusion for whole groups, countries, and virtually the whole of Africa.

Includes bibliographical references.