Towards a research framework for a human development-based "bottom of the pyramid" ICT development strategy in South Africa


There is a wealth of knowledge linking Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to

human development, but Africa’s leaders have not used it well to develop its human capital. The

continent has the lowest global levels of ICT diffusion and human development. This paper proposes a

way of developing Africa’s vital access to knowledge through ICT, by reviewing and using the human

development record of South Africa to develop a research framework for a human development –

based ICT development strategy. The framework comprises a research-based bottom-up participative

action program that responds directly to the specific information needs of the country’s socioeconomically marginalized communities, the so-called “Bottom of the Pyramid” (BOP), by ensuring

their maximum participation in the research and development process. The proposed framework

draws liberally from the vast accumulated knowledge about human development and its principal tool,

the ICTs, especially from Asia where similar development activities are delivering impressive results.

The multi-cultural and multi-lingual characteristic of South African society, including its recent sociopolitical history, presents numerous challenges for balanced human development, but also unique

opportunities to build an effective model for improving the usefulness of ICTs for human development

in the country and by extension, in Africa as a whole

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