“Government responsiveness can be driven, but only given the right channels of information and communication are available to both citizens and government” — Prof. Hannah Thinyane


is the world ranking of South Africa in mobile data usage

Start date
April 2016
End date
June 2017
Period: 15 months


South Africa has a progressive legislative framework for service delivery, with some of the most comprehensive laws for public services on the continent.

But, while at legislative level, policies are being implemented, for many at local level, policies are simply not being translated into practice.

In the last decade there have a number of public protest movements around service delivery, fueled by not only citizen’s dissatisfaction with services, but also by a lack of of communication and responsiveness from the authorities.

Despite vocal public protests, these issues often remain unresolved. Opportunities for ordinary people to make their issues heard by government agencies are still limited, and without more - and better - communication, the gap between government and the citizens they serve will continue to widen.


Through this project, Rhodes University wants to create opportunities for citizens to participate in local governance around provision of basic services. The team are creating a mobile phone application called MobiSAM.

The application provides users with an easy way of reporting problems, including their location and a picture of the problem that they want to report, and making it open not just to the government department responsible for these services - who are being trained on how to use it - but also to the public.

This app is designed to promote dialogue and to facilitate meaningful participation between citizens and local government around the provision of basic services, and builds on lessons from other apps, which are being deployed as far away as Jakarta.



Rhodes University is one of the oldest universities in South Africa, located in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape province. The University emphasises engaged communities and accessible, useable research.

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