The “First” and “Third World” in Africa: Knowledge Access, Challenges and Current Technological Innovations in Africa

Molawa, Segametsi
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This paper focuses on digitization in the African continent. It highlights the fact that some countries in Africa have both the “first” and “third” world characteristics in terms of development and access to information and communication technology (ICT) tools. The study uses South Africa as a case study representing the minority privileged , who are very rich “first world”, compared with the majority population living in rural and urban townships that represents the underdeveloped, poor parts of the country, sometimes referred to as the “third world” component of South Africa. The underdeveloped areas, as in other countries on the African continent, face challenges in accessing information technology as a result of poor infrastructure. The South African case study is further complicated by the apparent divide between the nine provinces in terms of accessing ICTs. For example, some of the provinces are more rural than others and this factor has implications in terms of digitization and availability of infrastructure. Digitization is a process that is currently looked upon by many to bring about maximum access to global knowledge. Most countries are generating knowledge that is traditionally shared and disseminated in the form of books, journals, monographs and many other formats that have been used for preservation, like microfiche. These are stored in physical buildings such as libraries and archives that pride themselves on the management and dissemination of knowledge. With the advent of modern technology, however, digitization transcends the geographical divide and rigidity of a physical building, as presented by a library and archive, by making global knowledge readily and widely available. Digitization also promotes access to knowledge and information in a faster and cheaper way because the production and geographical challenges are limited if the appropriate infrastructure is available. As a result, the Internet has become the primary vehicle in the sharing of knowledge in addition to TV, radio and other ICT tools.
ICADLA, conference, digital library, archive, access