The role of intermediaries in information sharing between government and communities in Western Cape
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The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to share information is rapidly increasing worldwide. The South African government uses ICT to extend sharing of information and provide services to communities through websites, portals, forums and other online platforms. However, there are still digitally divided communities – without access it these ICTs due to, among others, a lack of necessary computer skills and financial resources. Consequently, these communities miss opportunities to use ICTs to share information with the government. To address the digitally divided communities, the government established an initiative to build community ICT access centres (e-centres). These e-centres have become the intermediaries between government and communities as shared community facilities that provide access to ICTs and connect the digitally divided communities to government services with social and economic benefits. However, there seem to be disparities between the government's roles and the eventual roles played by intermediaries in information sharing between communities and the government. The disparity might lead to intermediaries not providing services expected by communities, which might affect how communities use intermediaries to communicate with the government.