South Africa: Impact and Coverage of Telecentres, 1998

Access to modern telecommunications can help disadvantaged populations in low-income countries overcome a vital obstacle to participation in the global economy. The Universal Services Agency of South Africa, with support from Canada’ International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is attempting to provide such access through its telecentres project.

Modern communication systems are common in many areas in South Africa but basic telecommunication services are unavailable in several rural regions. Some 25% of all South African households have to travel more than five kilometres to reach a phone.

South Africa’s Universal Service Agency is a statutory body that promotes universal access to telecommunications for all South Africans. In 1998 the Agency commissioned CIETafrica to establish a series of indicators against which the impact and coverage of telecentres could be benchmarked. The survey also identified certain factors that would help determine the future success of telecentres.

The project covered three provinces: Eastern Cape, Northern Province and Western Cape.