It’s no lie that enabling the internet in communities enables the expansion of knowledge and business. Wi-Fi can enable rural communities in Africa, but the question really is how and when? There are factors above and beyond the telecommunications industry that impact this enablement. Providing internet access to all people in Africa has been a long-time goal of many countries on the continent as more studies have proven the power of the internet for economic development.
Connectivity means that people can access information, ideas and do business differently. It also makes a huge impact on the social inclusion of others. This together has positive socio-cultural effects.
Imagine the growth when businesses in Africa are able to grow because of systems that the Internet can help them implement? This can grow innovation and the more people innovate the better it is for their own communities, allowing them to connect. In turn, the community is uplifted, causing them to grow and therefore, quality of life is better.
Fixed-line access such as fibre is unheard of rural Africa. People generally rely on their mobile phones for internet access. Enabling Wi-Fi in these communities enables these people to access technologies they had previously left unimagined.
Wi-Fi is low cost and can be deployed without a license for its function. Massive infrastructure isn’t required so it is relatively achievable.
Running fibre to so many people just isn’t feasible and it’s costly. Microwave links require licenses and line of site to work. Wi-Fi is not only high speed and more economically, it also doesn’t require line of site in order to work.
Fibre is not without its purpose, however. Just as the undersea cables connect the world, fibre can add additional speed and capacity. With time, costs will decrease as well. As a result, Africa is in a more strategic and informed position to enable rural communities through connectivity.
People should be able to access information in the same way everyone else does, that’s the only way we can enable true growth of our people. There needs to be a more affordable way to grant this access to people and Wi-Fi might be that.