Challenges and Opportunities as a Result of Technology

In this section we consider how developing communities have been left behind as the world grows in its access to technology. A community in Bangladesh is one example of an area where the growth of IT elsewhere has been a cause for problems of skilled laborers. These skilled laborers, such as fishermen, “earthen ware artiles”, iron smiths, and textile manufacturers resided in poor or isolated ares, where they had little to no IT access. As IT in other communities changed, so did the livelihood of these laborers. A direct result of not being able to keep up with these new techniques was that the fishermen of the community became idle and were no longer in the traditional roles they once knew (Faruque & Dhaka, 2015). The solution proposed was that the community set up an Information Service Centre. This would be a place to learn and teach IT with other community members, as well as have interactions and discussions. Other solutions for similar global trends were offered by Michael Trucano, an Information and Community Technology (ICT) specialist. He first suggested to repurpose old technology, such as televisions and radios, as technologies like this lend themselves to interactive, group activities. The second suggestions was multiple people sharing one device to encourage cooperation and avoid having to buy multiple expensive devices. Lastly, he suggested storing online content as offline content, which alleviated the issue of availability and speed of the Internet in the area (Trucano, 2014). These ideas offered by Faruque, Dhaka, and Trucano are just a few ways that groups, like the skilled laborers in Bangladesh, could integrate changing technology into their lives, and show that these “gaps” in IT access should be seen as opportunities for growth.

Cell phones are currently the most prevelant and accessible form of IT being used throughout greater Cape Town. As of a 2011 census, nearly 90% of the population had cell phones and 50% had access to the Internet in some capacity (City of Cape Town, 2011). As cell phone technology developed, there was a shift away from other types of technologies because they had shortcomings as a relevant platform for people to connect (infoDev). As noticed by community members in the township of Philippi, it was much more common to see the youth using applications like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp instead of only SMS and phone calling which the adults use. Programs exist to forge the movement of other forms of IT for the general population. E-Powering the People is a program that has set up multiple technology access points across Cape Town (Valentine, 2014). In addition, there are 101 public libraries and numerous mobile libraries that are not part of the E-Powering project, but still offer Internet and computer access. At public libraries, community members register, and are given an email account and daily access to the Internet in 45 minute periods (Community: Cape Town Libraries, 2015). Outside what the South African government is doing, there are private organizations working to spread technology and knowledge. Microsoft is just one of the agencies attempting to address this desire. They believe “the world has recognized the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise”; although this investment is a strong business move, it still plays a role in the development of new technologies. The program they designed works to supply the youth with discounted devices, empower through technology, and run an AppFactory, a way for creative members of the community to turn their ideas into reality (Microsoft4Afrika). On a more local scale, Silulo Ulutho Technologies is an Internet cafe and training centre chain found in many cities including the townships of Philippi and Khayelitsha and other cities across Eastern and Western Cape. However, it is not free, so consistent visits are an expensive form of access for the community (Silulo Ulutho Technologies, 2015). While cell phones make up the majority of IT in Cape Town, changes are being made to diversify the types of IT available to allow increased access to these resources.