Exploring the use of mobile phones for public participation in the Buffalo City metropolitan municipality

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    This study investigated the factors that influence the intention of citizens to use their mobile phones to increase their participation in local government. It examined whether gender and age can be used to moderate the effect of these factors. The research was conducted in Buffalo City, a municipality in South Africa. The research used a questionnaire survey to collect quantitative data and semi-structured interviews to collect qualitative data. Data was collected from people aged between 18 and 55 who have no access to fixed-line Internet at home but are instead primarily accessing the Internet via their mobile phones. The study found that the acceptance of mobile phones as a means for public participation is largely a matter of designing mobile participation solutions that support and enhance the performance of citizens. Citizens are fairly accustomed to mobile technology, and this increases the likelihood that they would willingly adopt mobile participation solutions if they offer tangible gains when compared to current methods. Older citizens would require support in familiarizing with the new technology, while all citizens place the availability of reliable organizational and technical infrastructure as an important predictor of their intention to use. The influence of friends and family members was an important factor in citizens’ intention to use. Gender did not have any significant effects on the factors that affect intention to use. Age was a significant moderator with younger citizens requiring quick and convenient ways to interact with government while older people looked for more efficient ways of reaching government which should in turn lead to improved quality in services delivered.