The South African Knowledge Access Network - SAKAN - is a search for technological solutions to reduce the levels of extreme inequality, poverty and unemployment (the triple threats) in South Africa. The technology proposed is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which SAKAN redefines as the principal means to access information and knowledge for basic Human Development. The commercial and technological components of ICT are vital for national economic growth, but pale into insignificance when compared to their utility for Human Development for the 56% of South Africans who live below the nationally defined poverty lines. Human history has demonstrated throughout its existence that extremes of inequality and poverty have always been the root causes of stagnant national growth and socio-political instability.
This SAKAN Website provides numerous statistical and anecdotal evidence of the severity of the triple threats to South Africa’s sustainable growth with socio-political stability. Much of the anecdotal evidence is provided as links to video documentaries of the existence and impacts of these triple threats. The image slider below provides a visual summary of these threats. This SAKAN page concludes with a similar visual summary of how other nations have used, and continue to use ICTs to mitigate their triple threats through mass digital literacy acquisition, which in turn bridges their digital divides.
SAKAN Vision, Mission, Objectives and Strategy.
The SAKAN Vision A South Africa in which everyone has equal access to ICT-derived information and knowledge to enhance their opportunities for sustainable self and community development.
South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP)"envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work" The SAKAN vision aligns fully with this national vision, narrowing it down to how the national ICT sector can contribute towards achieving that national vision through direct access to, and capability for intensive productive use of ICT-derived information and knowledge for all age groups irrespective of their educational levels or societal hierarchies.
The SAKAN Mission All South Africans of all ages able to access the information and knowledge they need to enhance their own, their peers, and their community’s development via the national and global ICT networks. All nations aspire to this mission statement, but achieving the goals derived from it is extremely difficult:
Some autocratic leaders suppress ICT access to retain control over their citizens;
The commercial value of ICTs supersedes their Human Development value;
The costs of providing ICT services to the poor is perceived to be Prohibitive;
The 4IR evolution renders the challenge even more difficult - high level user skills for all are needed, but providing them is costly and complex;
The SAKAN Mission is to address these and other complexities systematically and find solutions to overcome them.
SAKAN Strategies To position ICTs as tools to combat South Africa’s Triple Threats:
ICT readiness (infrastructure access): Connectivity - a vital prerequisite;
ICT Use (intensity): This must extend beyond simple usage - transformative use of ICTs will be prioritized;
ICT Capability (skills): Skills for the provision of ICT services and beyond - readiness for survival in the complex 4IR world;
The SAKAN Strategy will focus exclusively on South Africa's poorest population, especially the children (over 60% living in poverty). How they appropriate ICT will be a focus of intense research which will include the complex challenge of Early Childhood Development (ECD) via ICT and other related technologies.
SAKAN Objectives Principal Objective:To provide affordable unlimited broadband and ICT user skills to at least 80% of South Africa's poorest residents and their children by the end of the NDP target of year 2030: Subordinate objectives are dependent on national decision-making processes, which are strongly influenced by competing socio-economic-political ideologies and resulting national policies. This dependency leads to:
OBJECTIVE 1: Secure support from 50% of relevant public, private and civil society sectors by mid 2020. Strongly dependent on the 2019 national elections.
Given the rapidly evolving technological change-drivers of today, the process of identifying opportunities and partnerships will be continuous, similar in many respects to the SDG and ICT-specific WSIS processes. An outline of the proposed process based on the WSIS-derived ICT Development Index (IDI) is summarized below.
SAKAN strategic design platform: IDI.
The ICT Development Index (IDI) SAKAN Project Design Strategy SAKAN has selected the ITU IDI framework for project design. This allows ready access to the IDI data sets that enable project design, setting objectives for each unique community, and enabling project monitoring and evaluation, and peer country benchmarking. All inductors will be adjusted to suit the needs and capabilities of the poor:
ICT Readiness (infrastructure, access.) The individual penetration measures used in this indicator will be amended to suit the massively shared connectivity that renders ICT access affordable to the poor.
This ICT Use (Intensity) will be central to the SAKAN strategy. The commercial and other values of ICT pale into insignificance when compared to the value of their intensive usage.
This ICT Capability (Skills) indicator will be expanded to reinforce the ICT Use indicator, technological appropriation and digital skills acquisition for all.
ICT Impact (outcomes). This vital indicator will be expanded as experience is gained to set key measurable objectives for the whole SAKAN process.
The IDI process provides an excellent platform for the SAKAN process - a global system of statistical data compilation is already in place. The indicator refinements will be extensions of this process, not a replacement of it.
The size of South Africa's Triple Threats in numbers:
In 2015, more than 30 million inhabitants, or 55.5% of the population, survived at or below the defined upper-bound poverty line of ZAR1138 per month (approximately US$91 per month, or US$14.5 in Purchasing Power Parity $ -STATS SA 2017);
The children of this group accounted for 63% of the national child population;
30% of the economically excluded children lived in households without a working adult;
80% of grade 4 learners (9 to 10 year-olds) cannot read in any language, including their "mother tongue" (PIRLS 2016);
More than 30 million South Africans living at or below the upper-bound poverty line needed to spend up to 71% of their disposable income per month to purchase 5GB of data each month (estimates based on STATS SA income data and the mean advertised price of mobile data from all South African providers in August 2017);
The number of households with fixed broadband connections remained stagnant at 10% between 2011 and 2016;
Clearly the majority of South Africa’s inhabitants cannot afford more than very basic access to the information and knowledge they need for their own and their children’s development.
About SAKAN Conclusion: The concluding slider below summarizes how South Africa's developing country peers have, and/or are providing broadband ICT services to their poor communities on a massive scale. The relatively simple challenge is to change the way we think about providing broadband ICT services to the poor: Instead of the individual connectivity model that cannot address the needs of the very poor, an alternative model is Mass Access to unlimited broadband in public places, as has been done so successfully in the early phase of our industry's evolution - the humble Public Call Boxes in which the original dial tone changes to uncapped broadband data at the highest possible speeds that continue to rise as the 4IR world unfolds. SAKAN seeks the broad-based partnerships that will make this happen.