There is no doubt of the contributions made by mobile phones and mobile network operators in increasing access to communications in rural areas of developing countries. Yet how affordable is this ubiquitous access in such an ICT ecosystem? Using data from two stratified random surveys conducted in a South African rural community, this paper provides a unique in-depth picture of the expenditure and communication patterns of its dwellers. Results show a high access ratio of people using mobile phone services weekly and a high proportion of disposable income dedicated to a very constrained set of mobile phone services. Factors such as mobile phone charging and the extra charges added by airtime resellers contribute to increase the communication costs. This data and its analysis can be used by the following: regulators and government agencies to better design their policy implementations to provide universal service and access; competing industry players to understand the dynamics within rural communities to better target their products; civil society organizations to use it as a case in their efforts to make affordable communications a constitutional right.
When faced with complex problems that require coordination and collaboration, government departments almost instinctively retreat to their silos and predetermined responses. As a result, workable solutions often fall through the cracks and citizens pay the price. The same may be true in the case of childhood malnutrition in South Africa. ...