Kyobe, M. (2011), "Special issue on information and communication technology in South Africa", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 13 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/jsit.2011.36513caa.001Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Special issue on information and communication technology in South Africa
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Volume 13, Issue 3
This special issue focuses on information and communication technology (ICT) in South Africa. It covers the adoption and utilisation of ICT in South Africa, the challenges involved and the research conducted to address some of these issues.
The developments in South Africa in the past 15 years have presented various challenges, opportunities and uncertainties for organisations. Many of these organisations have turned to ICT to address these issues. While positive outcomes have been reported in some areas, e.g. increased support by government through the development of the ICT infrastructure, increased connectivity and affordability of telecommunication services, broader participation of citizens in IT usage and development of cyber-infrastructure and mobile technologies (StatsSA, 2009; SITA, 2002; Dos Santos, 2009; Abrahams and Goldstuck, 2010), the adoption and utilisation of ICT in the public and private sectors remain a major impediment to national development. This has been attributed to factors such as poor approaches to IT adoption, politics and cultural diversity, lack of IT skills capacity, security and poor service delivery (Singh, 2010; IST-Africa, 2007). Studies in these areas are limited and fragmented and calls have been made recently for better understanding of these problems and their implications in different sectors (De Marez et al., 2007; Mpofu et al., 2009; Kamal and Qureshi, 2009; Falkenberg, 2005).
This special issue consists of five papers. These examine the key factors influencing ICT adoption in South Africa in general, as well as the challenges and potential solutions for specific sectors such as higher education institutions (HEI), marginalized and digitally excluded communities and government departments.
The first paper entitled “Investigating the key factors influencing ICT adoption in South Africa” by the guest editor investigates the key factors influencing ICT adoption in South Africa. The author argues that while many factors influencing ICT adoption have been identified in literature, these tend to be isolated and fragmented and as such the key determining factors are not well-known. He maintains that the significance of the influence of each of the factors needs to be understood in order to enable appropriate policy reviews and intervention strategies that support ICT adoption. Using data collected from The World Bank databases and other sources and covering the period 2000-2009, the author conducted a regression analysis to determine the significance of each factor. The findings show that capacity to adopt and use ICT has the most significant influence on ICT adoption in South Africa, followed by exposure to the international environment. These findings confirm the need to increase levels of economic growth in South Africa if the country is to make technological advances. Understanding the relative influence of these factors is also important in that it directs policy and proper allocation of limited resources.
The need to enhance capacity to adopt and use ICT in South Africa is clearly emphasised in the rest of the contributions to this special issue. In the second article entitled: “A preliminary study of podcasting in developing higher education institutions: a South African case”, Raymond Mugwanya, Gary Marsden and Richard Boateng examine the challenges involved in using ICT in teaching and learning in HEI. They identify podcasting of educational lectures as one potential solution to these challenges and conducted an explorative study to determine its effectiveness in an academic department. This paper reports on the experiences of faculty and students in using this tool and provides useful input into the development of podcasting as an aid to teaching and learning in HEI.
The third paper entitled “Implementing open source software to conform to national policy” by Lizette Weilbach and Elaine Byrne investigates the implementation process of an open source enterprise management system (OSEMS) in the South African public sector. While the South African government encourages the adoption of OSEMS as a less-costly alternative to proprietary software, and indeed much progress has been made in terms of policy development, very few public institutions effectively use these systems. Weilbach and Byrne claim that little has been done to investigate the challenges involved during this migration. Their findings identify the need for greater alignment between the organisational environment, change management strategies and IT initiatives if the OSEMS platforms are to be utilised more effectively in government departments.
In the fourth contribution, “Information literacy training for teachers in rural South Africa”, Ina Fourie and Kirstin Krauss address the problem of information literacy (IL) in the neglected rural and previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa. Since limited work has been done in this area in the developing world, guidance in dealing with IL issues is also inadequate. The authors conducted an extensive review of the literature with a view to develop a conceptual model that can further research and training in the field of IL. This paper creates awareness of the challenges of introducing IL in developing communities. It emphasises the urgent need to make the rural communities competitive in the global information society if South Africa is to address the inequalities of the past and narrow the present digital divide.
The final contribution entitled “Dimensioning cultural diversity in eServices architectures” by Mamello Thinyane and Alfredo Terzoli also focuses on the problems in previously disadvantaged communities. Their concern is that ICT solutions continue to be implemented with limited regard to the cultural and ethnographic context. Consequently, they fail to address ICT adoption needs of marginalized and digitally excluded third world communities. The authors developed a culturally sensitive and end-user centric software architectural framework (PLASK) for the development of eService applications. They maintain that this architecture can be used in the realisation of services and applications for information and communication technologies for development contexts in South Africa.
As a guest editor, I would like to thank all those who contributed articles to this special issue, the reviewers for your valuable input as well as the publisher.
Michael KyobeGuest Editor
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