South Africa as an information and knowledge society: benefit to the informal sector women entrepreneurs

Glenrose Velile Jiyane, Mabel K Majanja, Bertha J Mostert, Dennis Ocholla


The use of tools for development has evolved from the industrial revolution over time. The late 18th and 19th centuries saw the increased use of machines and developments in the mining industries; in the 20th century, there was increased use of information and technology; and major breakthroughs sparked the evolution of the information and knowledge society of the 21st century. The basis of the information and knowledge society revolves around technologys increased assimilation and diffusion in human society, particularly information and communication technologies and their rapid growth and use in the exchange of information and knowledge. This society offers many opportunities and benefits to people in terms of the facilitation of information creation, distribution, diffusion, access and use for growth and development in various spheres of life. In this paper we discuss the role of the information and knowledge society (IKS) for informal sector women entrepreneurs (ISWEs) and focus on what there is in the IKS that could benefit ISWEs, analyse the criteria, indicators and benefits of IKS and explore the challenges and opportunities of IKS. At the end of the paper we provide recommendations for the development of IKS for the benefit of rural women. The paper is informed by recent doctoral work on the role of the information and knowledge society in poverty alleviation and the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs in South Africas informal sector. We find that by using criteria and indicators of an information and knowledge society to assess whether or not South Africa meets these requirements, South Africa indeed meets some of the criteria. However, it does not, in many instances, satisfy other criteria, and thus cannot be regarded unconditionally as an information and knowledge society. We recommend that South Africa should work toward achieving and meeting the criteria of the information and knowledge society by assessing itself against the criteria and indicators of such a society. Doing so would enable informal sector women entrepreneurs to reap the opportunities presented by the information and knowledge society.


South Africa; information and knowledge society; informal sector women entrepreneurs

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