Disparity in data access widens in Africa
Internet has been seen as an effective bridge to connect the poor and the rich in that it offers ready and equal opportunity to all as information is equally accessible irrespective of social status. However during the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC), delegates heard that access to digital content has widened in past years due to the high price of broadband. The conference which was convened to discuss the potential impact of broadband satellites on socio-economic status also heard that it is an error to consider satellite broadband as expensive.
Explaining the divide that has widened due to expensive broadband, Suraj Ramlall who is the chief technical officer of Saab Grintek said that data can be made more affordable by using multiple technologies instead of solely relying on cable Internet. ISPs seem to have abandoned satellite Internet in favour of cable and fibre Internet citing high-cost of satellite broadband. However Bharti Airtel and Softbank completed a successful demonstration of providing affordable 3G Internet to rural areas in Kenya. Suraj termed the notion that satellite Internet is expensive as untrue. In South Africa, it has been reported that Ellies Holdings will be releasing satellite Internet for majority of the people in an attempt to make it more affordable.
As Internet remains a formidable tool for bridging the gap between the poor and the rich, so the gap on Internet access ought to be eliminated entirely by implementing proper mix of all available Internet technologies.