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Fibre and benefit to rural communities

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Digital transformation is becoming a reality, but it needs extend to all of South Africa.
BitCo CEO Jarryd Chatz discusses how rolling out fibre in rural areas and how it will benefit the communities.
Fibre itself isn’t what benefits rural communities. What SMEs, schools and hospitals/clinics need is Internet connectivity. Fibre just happens to be one of the most efficient, cost effective tools for delivering Internet connectivity.
Once connected, suddenly, a whole new world is opened up to those communities — educational resources, medical expertise, and communication and collaboration tools.
The Internet can significantly bolster education, giving people — young and old — a fighting chance to find a job. SMEs can work with larger businesses — as part of Enterprise Supply and Development initiatives — to be a part of supply chains. And clinics and hospitals who are likely resourced gain access to the world’s collective medical knowledge, to aid staff with diagnosing and treating patients.
Perhaps most importantly, the Internet lets those communities communicate with one another and with the rest of the world.
At the moment, according to Internet World Stats 2017, just 51,6% of the South African population is connected to the Internet.
That may put us in the top three of Africa’s most connected countries, just behind Kenya and Seychelles, but it still means nearly half of our population is at a huge disadvantage.
Those lucky enough to live in the cities have gotten to where they are by sharing with one another and using the resources made readily available via the Internet.
Now, rural communities should be given that same opportunity.
Sooner or later — sooner rather than later — populated urban areas will be fibre saturated, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a lot of expansion.
Rural communities and smaller cities/towns can definitely benefit from fibre.
And, because fibre is so fast, a single line should be all a school or clinic will ever need, so for relatively little investment, an entire community can be connected, even if it’s only the schools, community halls, business centres (hubs) and emergency services that are connected at first.