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Development Impacts of Free Public Wi-Fi in Johannesburg

Article image

Judy Backhouse, Hlelo Chauke

01 April 2020

IGI Global


Lucille Tetley-Brown

Book chapter


South Africa

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) promise development gains, yet the complexity and opacity of the relationships between ICT initiative and development effect make it difficult to identify these development gains or to theorize connections. This case study does both. First, it identifies the connections between the roll-out of free public Wi-Fi by the City of Johannesburg and changes that have resulted in city residents' lives. Second, it uses the choice framework to explain how these changes come about.


This qualitative case study conducted interviews with users of the city's free public Wi-Fi service to understand how the service has changed the choices they have, leading to development in the sense of increased capabilities. Benefits identified included easier communications, savings in time and money, social and psychological benefits, as well as increased knowledge, business ideas, access to markets, access to job opportunities, and increased income. This study demonstrates how the linkages can be understood, albeit not in a linear fashion.


Abstract based directly on original source. Back to the SmartCity.ZA collection.


Website References


Community services

Digital access

Government programmes




Local government


Public services

Smart Cities

Social facilities

South Africa


Technology and innovation


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