Cellular communications revolution holds benefits for South Africa – IRR report

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THANDI XABA

Data cited by the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) shows that the number of cellular subscriptions in the country has increased from 8.3 million in 2000 to 76.8 million 2013, or by 822%. Over the same period the number of fixed-line telephone connections fell by 22%.

This increase in cellular subscriptions holds both economic and political benefits such cheaper and more effective access to goods and services.

Spokesperson Mienke Steytler says these figures indicate that many South African have access to phones, making communication much easier, placing the country in the forefront of technology in Africa.

"This indicates that South Africans no matter their walk of life’s have access to a cellular phone and can communicate in that way. The benefits are both political and economical, it’s really positioning South Africa as a leading tech nation in Africa," she says.

However the political benefits mean the increasing cell phone access promises to be a very effective antidote to government’s efforts at restricting access to information.

Furthermore Social media accessed via cell phones would help to ensure that South Africans could freely access and circulate information, despite the best efforts from the government to limit this.