There is a growing consensus on the potential for information and communications technologies (ICTs) to support socio-economic development in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Universities as providers of higher education are critical to developing SSA countries by, amongst others, empowering the region to develop appropriate ICT solutions for local challenges. The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss how contextual realities influence the development of ICT programme curricula at public universities in South Africa, a developing country in SSA, in order to meet the demand for ICT skills. After a brief discussion of the factors that influence the content and delivery in education systems an overview of the South African public higher education context is provided. Against this background the content and delivery of ICT programme offerings and the rationale behind the programmes at four South African public universities are presented in case study format and concludes with a discussion of the case studies. The paper may be of value to academic departments as examples of how other departments are responding and adjusting their offerings, to government departments and policy makers by engendering a better understanding of the impact of policy on programme development and to industry by illustrating the diverse stakeholders in higher education and academia’s responsiveness to these diverse requirements.