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Jacques Visser, Vox TelecomJacques Visser, Vox Telecom

I grew up in Upington, a small town in the Northern Cape. I speak from experience when I say the individuals living in farming communities are among the most enterprising in the world. It saddens me, as someone who has worked in the field of telecommunications and technology for so many years, that people are still limited by – of all things – inadequate access to basic business tools, like the Internet and e-mail.

Even though there is an influx of fibre-optic cables to the country (which can be likened, on a map, to a foreign invasion), communities on the outskirts of large commercial hubs will be the last to benefit from them – if they are to benefit from them at all. The reality is that rural areas are at the bottom of the priority list.

Add to that the fact that there is still little ADSL or 3G access available to small towns and communities in the countryside. Farms and lodges are still battling with dial-up or EDGE services, and paying exorbitant fees. Research has shown that safari lodges could increase their occupancies by 50% if they are able to provide their guests with wireless Internet access (which most of our foreign counterparts cannot live without).

The World Bank has said there is a correlation between a country’s economic growth and its access to high-speed Internet. They believe that, by simply increasing broadband Internet access by 10%, the economy will grow by 1.3%. If we are serious about job creation, then we should get serious about connectivity.

There are many mining, customer care and manufacturing companies which could create jobs in the countryside but are hesitant to because they are dependent on ordinary business services that simply aren’t readily available there as yet – VOIP, Skype, virtual private networks and even Internet and e-mail.

Because I believe in both the power of technology and the spirit of South Africans in rural communities, I know we’ll soon be witnesses to transformation. Hopefully, this will open the eyes of investors to the new possibilities rural South Africa represents.

About the author: is YahClick product manager at Vox Telecom.