Digital Africa post the Pandemic: South Africa report (After Access 2022-2023)

Type Report
Title Digital Africa post the Pandemic: South Africa report (After Access 2022-2023)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2024
Publisher Research ICT Africa
City Cape Town
Country/State South Africa
Although South Africa massively outperforms the other Sub-Saharan countries in the Research ICT Africa (RIA) 2022 After Access survey, its relatively high penetration rate of 70% masks high levels of intersectional digital inequality. The integration of ICTs in South Africa's national policies and strategies, as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, reflects a concerted effort to harness digital advancements for socio-economic development. The mandatory price reductions imposed on dominant operators MTN and Vodacom in March 2020 by South Africa’s Competition Commission had unintended consequences, notably removing the competitive advantage of smaller, late entrants in the market. Despite positive overall progress in terms of internet quality, regional disparities are evident across South Africa. The latest data on device ownership in South Africa reveals a notable surge in mobile phone ownership, with approximately 92 percent of the adult population estimated to possess a mobile device, showcasing near-universal adoption. The data on digital skills in South Africa reveals both progress and areas for improvement. While legal frameworks guarantee an individual’s right to a name and nationality, a significant portion of the population lacks official identification, hindering access to various services and opportunities. South Africa’s internet access has increased to 75 percent, in the process eliminating the digital gender access gap and significantly reducing the gap between rural and urban areas. Financial inclusion in South Africa has reached 81 percent of the adult population, with female inclusion now exceeding that of males. Income, age and education are the key determinants driving digital access in South Africa. Despite achieving high access levels, the internet is primarily used for social and entertainment purposes rather than for economic activity. Significant inequalities are evident in internet use across gender and geographic location. Despite 65 percent of microenterprises owning a smartphone, the adoption of digital technology remains low with only 38 percent using the internet and 39 percent being financially included. It should be a priority for nationally representative demand-side data on ICT access and use to be collected on a regular basis to be able to inform evidence-based policymaking in a highly dynamic area.

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