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Digital Development and Disruption in South Africa: Balancing Growth and Equity in National ICT Policies

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For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are both critical for economic development and highly disruptive to existing employment opportunities. Maximizing the potential of ICTs requires both promoting their use and addressing the inequality and dislocation they may cause. This paper examines South African national policy efforts that have an explicit goal of both growth and equity in the promotion of ICT use. Through an examination of two particularly high profile programs, the paper argues that national policy underestimates the potentially negative impact of ICTs on traditional employment sectors and fails to address the volatile nature of employment and skill requirements in ICT industries themselves. As a result, unless these shortcomings are addressed, national ICT policy in South Africa seems likely to further contribute to the disruption of existing employment opportunities while contributing to growing inequality.


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