HCI in South Africa

HCI in South Africa

Shawren Singh (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-562-7.ch041
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South Africa is a multi-lingual country with a population of about 40.5 million people. South Africa has more official languages at a national level than any other country in the world. Over and above English and Afrikaans, the eleven official languages include the indigenous languages: Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Ndebele, Tsonga, and Venda (Pretorius & Bosch, 2003). Figure 1 depicts the breakdown of the South African official languages as mother tongues for South African citizens. Although English ranks fifth (9%) as a mother tongue, there is a tendency among national leaders, politicians, business people, and officials to use English more frequently than any of the other languages. In a national survey on language use and language interaction conducted by the Pan South African Language Board (Language Use and Board Interaction in South Africa, 2000), only 22% of the respondents indicated that they fully understand speeches and statements made in English, while 19% indicated that they seldom understand information conveyed in English. The rate of electrification in South African is 66.1%. The total number of people with access to electricity is 28.3 million, and the total number of people without access to electricity is 14.5 million (International Energy Agency, 2002). Although the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” is narrowing, a significant portion of the South African population is still without the basic amenities of life. This unique environment sets the tone for a creative research agenda for HCI researchers and practitioners in South Africa.

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