From Information to Engagement: Exploring Communication Platforms for the Government-Citizen Interface in South Africa04 May 2016
An effective communication interface between government and citizens can strengthen government responsiveness and deepen citizen engagement. Such communication and information exchange takes many formats, especially given the various platforms and technologies available. This article situates communication options and strategies in the context of: reported challenges around engagement practices; expressed public preferences for particular communication platforms; and existing barriers to ICTs and other infrastructures in South Africa. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, the research reported here explores two questions: What are the most suitable platforms to improve government-citizen communication in South Africa? How could ICTs and other platforms be better used to promote improved communication and more meaningful citizen engagement around public services? We argue for a differentiated approach to communicating with citizens that acknowledges social realities and preferences if technology is to benefit socio-economic processes in a democratic South Africa.