South Africa launches an ICT Programme to Empower Rural Communities

The Department of Science and Technology is currently implementing a national ICT research development and innovation (RDI) strategy which will target rural and marginalised communities.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said the strategy seeks to ensure the development of high-end skills to enable, build and strengthen the innovation chain and the capacity of South Africa to perform competitive research in ICT.

"Among these is the Digital Doorway, which is a robust computer facility, designed to provide access to computing resources to these disadvantaged communities," the minister said on Monday.

Usually placed outdoors Digital Doorway facilities are designed such that they can withstand harsh conditions and vandalism and is available 24 hours to the communities to learn basic computer skills and access information resources such as Wikipedia, as well as any learning content.

Another project from the ICT RDI implementation programme, that seeks to enhance access to ICT in rural areas, is a large scale technology demonstrator pilot project, which seeks to deploy affordable broadband connectivity infrastructure.

"Currently, the pilot focuses on providing broadband connectivity to schools and other government and public facilities in three municipalities, each in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.

"It is hoped that this project will usher in a new era where our historically deprived communities will get the opportunity to participate in socio-economic activities using the ICT platform," she said.

In order to attract critical mass in the advanced human resources in ICT, the ICT RDI strategy employs several models which include students in employment, research grants, internships and instruments to support innovation and technology-based enterprise development such as the Innovation Fund among others.

Source: Bua News

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