- Gap matters in the local village: A case study on the “hut-wired” situation in QwaQwa, South Africa   click here to open paper content44 kb
by    Petzer, Jaco & null, null & null, null | ssi@iafrica.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
ISOCARP Young Planners Programme 2001


The world has shrunk, but for some Mohali’s Hoek is still four days afoot from Phuthaditjhaba

What is the contribution/ case study about? (1 sentence)

“Real space” obstacles prevent active participation in “cyberspace”. How does this manifest and what is the role of planners in the South African context as far as information technology is concerned?

What makes it interesting for participants? (3 sentences)

Participants are invited on a virtual pedestrian stroll through the rural villages of Qwa-Qwa and will come to see that poverty excludes and denies. Here information is largely exchanged in a one-way flow and by word-of-mouth, distance is something that some still has to traverse physically, and the furthest travel from home usually effectively measure the extent of the globalisation effect.

What impact might greater access to information technology have on people’s current information (e.g. their view of the world, ideas and beliefs, settlement patterns) and on meaningful information interchange; and how could this assist the planner to enhance sustainable human settlement making by obtaining first-hand information through open and equal communication?

Outline & Presentation Method (10-20 sentences)

In a situation where poverty and related issues make for a digital divide, cyberspace is a place far away and a concept foreign and/ or unknown to many; especially those living in marginalised communities.
1. The participants are firstly introduced to the “real space” status quo by sketching the background to the South African situation. A short overview is presented of the reasons for exclusion from the information society stemming from poverty and the related unavailability and inaccessibility to appropriate infrastructure, income and education that facilitate participation in information-intensive activities.
2. Access to available technology and the possible application (meaningful use) and limitations (e.g. language) thereof is then briefly presented and clarified for further discussion.
3. The above theoretical points of departure (specifically access) are now made applicable to the real situation in Qwa-Qwa (from information compiled in the Land Development Objectives that our company undertook in providing assistance to the Local Rural Authority). This section will form the bulk of the paper.
4. Answers are sought to relevant questions: what are these people missing by not having access ? why do they need to be made part of the information society ? how can they be made part thereof ? how can information technology assist in addressing the core issues of the people of Qwa-Qwa (i.e. how can their world be shrunk) ? how can the people of Qwa-Qwa contribute to the information society ?
5. In conclusion the anticipated, likely and ideal future is explored briefly in a scenario-building, speculative fashion that builds on current trends in the face of poverty.
Personal involvement (1 sentence)

The digital divide is observed from a role as “techno”-planner, information user/ provider and involvement in planning activities in Qwa-Qwa.

Proposed Session (1 sentence)

Parallel Session 3 – Cyberspace and the loss of concentration
The author examines how poverty presents obstacles to digital inclusion in the South African context, based on a case study on the situation in QwaQwa. The paper indicates how the digital divide follows the income divide and how the world remains unshrunk for the unskilled and unplugged poor. It concludes with some proposals for a sustainable IT strategy.
QwaQwa, poverty, ICT
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