The disconnected connected society
Opinion piece by Phumza Dtyani, Sales and Marketing Chief Officer for Broadband Infraco
For multitudes, personal progress was generally associated with connection to individuals in high positions.
However, in the age of technology, to be digitally connected it is essential to make possible the connection not only with certain influential persons but to be linked to the global community.
Digitally connecting people, particularly the poorly connected in remote areas of South Africa, is at the heart of Broadband Infraco.
With its mandate of expanding the availability and affordability of access to electronic communications; Infraco is doing its bit to support projects of National Interest such as promoting access to information and presenting platforms for enabling possibilities.
Digitally connecting people is important to unlocking opportunities and making transformation possible.
Scarce economic opportunities in rural areas resulted in their depopulation thus contributing to driving migration from rural to urban areas.
The influx to the cities is owing to the absence of economic opportunities as well as employment. Lack of access to facilities, and to markets makes it difficult for businesses to operate in rural areas, and also makes life difficult for those making an effort to find jobs or create their income-generating opportunities. Broadband is then seen as a possibility of an equalizer as it enables access to information as well as bridge the challenge of space and distance.
In a number of countries, Broadband access and affordable internet connectivity makes possible the attraction of new businesses, particularly in rural and remote areas.
Also increased access to medical professionals with telemedicine and other online resources. Medical record sharing and remote surgery would practically be impossible without broadband connectivity.
The push for the up-skilling of many South Africans, so they could actively participate in and grow the economy, stands to benefit from technology as efforts to educate are enhanced through expanded research, online classes, and tutorials.
Such empowerment begins at the basic education level enabling students to be more competitive and better prepared for post-secondary education.
Collaboration along with the joint building of digital platforms is crucial to enable easily accessible and affordable internet connection to unlock the power, possibilities, and potential within many in our country, and within the African continent.
Broadband Infraco’s mission is in line with the NDP as it established a national, regional and municipal fiber-optic network to provide the backbone for broadband access.
There is a need to transform how citizens interact with governments and how services are delivered to a greater number of our citizens. On its part, Infraco is rolling out a SA Connect program with the scope to provide broadband access services to Government facilities with eight district municipalities already identified for a Phase 1 implementation. To date, 313 Government facilities have been connected, with 400 more to be connected by September 2019.
ICTs are the single most powerful tool we have to transform South Africa into a prosperous developed nation where poverty, inequality, and unemployment were not an everyday reality.
All should be asking themselves how best they could be a part of the unraveling digital revolution and not end there but also answer the question by doing what was within their power to make the best of technology for themselves and others.
Governments ought to appreciate that connectivity is not exclusively an ICT issue. There is an urgent need to make connectivity possible for all.
So, among others what needed addressing is the issue of the cost of data, affordability of spectrum, cost of handsets, availability of public wi-fi, roaming agreements, illiteracy and the inability to leverage the power of the internet.
In a digital world, it mattered to be connected to the global community so that the human potential could be unleashed, and people got to travel or experience the world through the net.