Over the past decade, many developing countries have initiated programs that provide public access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) as key components of their strategies for social and economic development. However different countries have had varying levels of success. In this paper we present a comparative analysis of public access ICT in South Africa and Brazil. The two countries are the most developed in their respective regions. Drawing on results of a larger qualitative study of 25 countries, we seek to explain differences in the levels of success in public access ICT programs in South Africa and Brazil. We focus on issues of Access, Capacity and Environment, and seek to explain why Brazil ranks consistently higher than South Africa in all key variables of our analysis. This analysis helps to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of the public access initiatives in both countries, and validates the analytical framework developed for this study.