The spaces between: ICT and marginalization in the South African city
Popular media and policy rhetoric often portray Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a means to social and economic empowerment. Many assumptions embedded in ICT for Development (ICT4D) literature do the same. The ubiquitous presence of mobile telephony in emerging countries such as South Africa and proliferation of digital networks imply a critical role for these technologies in overcoming physical constraints in space. Is access to technology enough however? This paper responds by reflecting on two sources of data collected over a three-year period in Durban, South Africa. A web development process for community organizations in two townships was followed and documented. The second data source entailed focus groups conducted with foreign street traders (hawkers) active in many parts of the city. The notion of 'spaces between' refers to the in-between physical places not well served by ICT and other infrastructure, where cell phone access provides the only opportunity for digital connection. It also refers to the 'blind spots' in policy making and city governance. Here it refers to the in-between 'spaces' of those engaged in the informal economy, many of whom are foreign nationals exposed to harassment and violence off the landscape of legitimacy and economic inclusion.