Rural communities go digital

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Communities in rural areas in Limpopo are being brought into the digital society fold with the unveiling of various services at public facilities in Vhembe District.

Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana on Wednesday visited Musina, where broadband services were rolled out at Eric Louw High School, Bonwa-Udi Primary School and Musina Gateway Clinic.

The connectivity will assist the schools and the clinic to digitize their services and provide e-education and e-health services. The facilities are the first in the province to benefit from the programme.

State-owned entity Broadband Infraco (BBI) is responsible for the infrastructure project.

During her visit to the schools, Kekana handed over ICT equipment to schools, including laptops and tablets donated by MTN. She also used the event to promote a comprehensive cybersecurity outreach program.

Kekana said that they started the roll-out in Vhembe, where 1 200 sites, including health and education in the district, would benefit from the broadband services.

The Deputy Minister said the multibillion Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (SEZ) -- which focuses on energy, metallurgical processing, agro-processing, petrochemicals and logistics -- can help the region to develop into a smart city.

“The potential for Musina to become a smart city is [great] but it will depend on the leadership of Musina... We want to improve productivity in schools, we want learners to be better and become future innovators,” Kekana said.

Kekana urged learners to be responsible and use the broadband services for education programmes and research to help improve their performance.

BBI CEO Andrew Matseke said the company wants to assist learners to get ready for the future.

“[We want learners] to go school, get the skills and start their own businesses. As we move towards the fourth industrial revolution, we are determined to make sure that the provinces with [large] rural areas are not left behind,” Matseke said.

Bonwa-Udi Primary School Principal Dr Lyneth Maila expressed her appreciation for the roll-out of the programme, assuring Kekana that the equipment will be kept safe.

“We truly appreciate this and to us, it is a very big thing. We know that through this, we will be going to another level. We take this with both hands and promise that we are not going to disappoint (sic),” Maila said.

Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba said the province is excited about the efforts to build a digital society.

“This is the most relevant place for you to start this [digitisation] initiative because the challenges we face, especially in this area… that is close to the border, include a high work load as people often cross the border to seek medical attention in the facilities.

“… We need e-health services. Many lives that are lost could be saved [through e-health]... Indeed, we are in the new dawn,” said Ramathuba.

Kekana will on Thursday roll-out broadband services at Louis Trichardt Secondary School. –