Uses, benefits and challenges of public access points in the face of growth of mobile technology

02 Aug 2016

For over two decades, the use of shared Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access has been promoted as a mode for promoting access to technology, especially in developing countries, hence minimising the effects of the digital divide on those on the wrong side of the divide. Recent discourse on the momentous diffusion of mobile telephony in developing countries has questioned the rationale of promoting fixed shared access, since people are bound to prefer mobile phones over shared access points. This paper seeks to empirically explore the use of shared access points in the wake of the increasing diffusion and usage of mobile technology. We explored the actual use of shared computing facilities, the benefits users accrue from using the facilities and the challenges they face in using and in gaining benefits. We used a case study of a shared facility in a disadvantaged community in Cape Town. The study noted that the demand for the shared facilities is still high. We noted that the center is used for both instrumental and hedonic purposes. It was also noted that there are economic, social and psychological benefits from using the facilities. However, it was noted that use of the facilities is beset by a number of challenges which limit use and benefits from the usage. The paper also noted the strategies users employ to overcome the challenges.