Embedding knowledge transfer in digital citizen engagement in South Africa: Developing digital literacy




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African Online Scientific Information Systems (Pty) Ltd t/a AOSIS



Peer reviewed



Basic service delivery is a fundamental right for all South Africans, especially vulnerable groups. Effective and efficient channels of communication between multi-stakeholder groups involved and affected by service delivery are essential. Digital citizen engagement has recently emerged as a key approach for supporting two-way communication between citizens and the government. It is essential for building evidence-based data to engage with government and apply social accountability measures to lobby for the provision of basic services. Key to building capacities and learning, is developing the abilities of both local government and citizens to become digitally literate (including civic and responsiveness literacy), in order to realise and action the true benefits of digital citizen engagement. This research set out to identify the roles of digital literacy in digital citizen engagement, and how it may be embedded in knowledge transfer processes for implementing digital citizen engagement initiatives. A pragmatist philosophical approach was applied: studying, observing and reflecting on actions in the MobiSAM case study. Using Szulanski’s four-stage model of knowledge transfer, key focus areas for developing digital literacy were identified, contributing to a Quadruple-E process of: (1) explore, (2) enable, (3) engage and (4) embed. Practices identified in the MobiSAM case study are provided as suggestions for each phase, with an indication of possible constraints that may be experienced in the knowledge transfer and digital literacy development process – a potential guideline for developing digital literacy in digital citizen engagement initiatives. The process for knowledge transfer and developing digital literacy that was identified in this article provides a guideline for future implementation of digital citizen engagement initiatives in resource-constrained contexts.



digital literacy, civic literacy, citizen engagement, government responsiveness, ICT4D, civic technology, knowledge management


Pade-Khene, C. (2018). Embedding knowledge transfer in digital citizen engagement in South Africa: Developing digital literacy. Reading & Writing, 9 (1)


Research Institute

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)