Nokia Siemens Networks launches wireless technology for the Eastern Cape community

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

An Eastern Cape rural community will next month be among the first to benefit from the introduction of wireless connectivity through the Nokia Siemens Networks' Village Connection.

Nokia Siemens said it was important to allow rural communities to benefit from affordable wireless technology, which had been proven to improve people's lives and boost economic development.

Linda Khumalo, head of sub region Southern Africa at Nokia Siemens Networks, said: "We cannot leave them behind. The global connected community is no longer confined to the world's richest."

Khumalo made the comments during the 10th annual Telkom Southern African Telecommunications Networks and Applications Conference, which was held in Mauritius last week.

Plans are in place to launch Village Connection solution in other key emerging African markets, where telecommunications has been found to be a key driver for economic growth.

Nokia Siemens said that in countries with developing economies, for every 10percent increase in mobile penetration, the gross domestic product increased by 0,6percent.

African households have been found typically to have only $5 (R35) to spend on telecommunications monthly.

The pilot project will supply between 70 and 80 users with connectivity for a fixed tariff of R20 for three months.

Users will be able to purchase airtime from the providers.

Connectivity will spread from village to villiage, resulting in a franchise-based business model between an operator and local village entrepreneurs.

Khumalo said the initiative was also part of the goal to provide five billion people with wireless connectivity by 2015 and it would be using different platforms such as vernacular language radio stations to educate the target market.

He said half of the world's population lived in rural areas and wireless access was critical for capital and business growth for the communities.

Many of these people need access to mobile communication in order to reap the considerable welfare benefits technology brings. Nokia Siemens said it would monitor the pilot to ensure its viability.

"The challenge is to ensure that the rate and roll-out of technology infrastructure remains both appropriate and affordable," said Khumalo.