By Farhad Khan, chief commercial officer at Yahsat
Internet usage is surging in urban areas of South Africa.
According to Stats SA, 59.3% of South African households had at least one member who used the internet either at home, their place of work or study, or at Internet cafés. Yet there is a different picture within the country’s rural communities.
Whilst the impact of the digital economy is increasing in metropolitan areas, the digital divide is stark compared to remote and rural areas.
In order to bridge this digital divide and increase overall levels of internet penetration, even in the most remote areas of the country, a reliable, high speed connectivity solution needs to be in place.
According to a research study by the World Bank, for every 10% increase in broadband connectivity, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of developing nations rises by 1.38 per cent. This is where companies such as YahClick, the leading Ka-band satellite operator in Africa, comes in.
In addition to reaching remote areas, there are a number of benefits satellite internet can bring. Users can look forward to high speed and low latency connectivity at a competitive cost, further eradicating last-mile connectivity issues.
Furthermore, state-of-the-art technology that adjusts power requirements to ensure that links are maintained and not interrupted means that weather conditions do not affect the connection.
In fact, YahClick’s Ka-band technology makes use of ‘spot beams’ rather than broadcasting over an entire continent, which results in a far more efficient deployment of the available bandwidth, and all at a lower cost.
There are a variety of examples highlighting the extent to which satellite broadband is truly having a positive impact for rural South Africans. For example, there are many remote communities that rely on resources to remain informed and educated, with community libraries playing a key role.
With the aim of providing universal access to information for all South Africans, YahClick and Vox joined forces with the National Libraries of South Africa to provide satellite broadband internet services to 207 libraries across the Eastern Cape.
Satellite internet is also making a difference across the public sector. Home to one of the world’s largest national pension funds, South Africa has 1.2 million people needing access to their finances to enjoy their daily retired life. However, an estimated 10% of the population that qualifies for pension is unaware or unable to access it. There was an urgent need to provide an always-on broadband connectivity to allow real-time access to people’s pension, no matter how remote the location. Working with Vox, YahClick provided the perfect solution – vans specially equipped with a YahClick portable satellite, helping to connect the unconnected.
Businesses are also benefitting from satellite powered high speed connectivity. The rural farming community, one of the cornerstones of South Africa’s economy, also requires low latency internet.
For farmers living within the SKA SA (Square Kilometre Array South Africa) radio quiet zone, a solution was required that did not interfere with the local radio telescopes. For that reason, the SKA, YahClick and Vox partnered up to provide farming communities in the Northern Cape affected by the implementation of the Astronomy Geographic Advantage (AGA) Act with internet connectivity and telephony services at a reduced cost.
With a long track record of success on the African continent, YahClick was the first company to introduce Ka-band connectivity in Africa. And with the planned launch of the Al Yah 3 satellite, the company expects to triple its existing presence, reaching more urban and remote communities than ever before. The latest addition to the satellite fleet will extend YahClick’s reach to over 600 million users across more than 60% of the population in Africa. The digital opportunity is on South Africa’s doorstep and YahClick is inviting us to join the revolution.