Topic 3 : New information technologies at the service of rural development


As regards access to information and communication technologies, the town of St Joseph is faced with a number of paradoxes. Its rural character does not make it naturally attractive to Internet operators, who prefer to target urban zones. However, with its 34,000 inhabitants, it represents a major focus point of potential customers, that cannot just be ignored by these operators. On the other hand, the scattered character of the dwellings and the remoteness of certain hamlets make it difficult to have access to certain technologies.

Despite the late arrival of broadband in April 2004, 97.5% of the population of St Joseoh is now covered, thanks to a project carried out by an important operator. Only four zones are still not covered by a broadband Internet connection: Jean-Petit, Grand Coude, la Passerelle and Grand Galet.

In the absence of private operators, public structures have been contributing, each in their own way, to accelerating the arrival of operators in Saint Joseph, by covering remote zones through a system of interconnection or by opening up a regional broadband loop.

However, the cost of access to Internet connections in Reunion and the need to have access to a computer still represent obstacles, particularly as unemployment in the area concerns around 52% of the active population.

If nothing is done, the digital gulf might become even wider, particularly in rural zones. The aim of bringing I.T. into schools has been to respond to this concern. Today, it is necessary to go one step further and propose a coherent development as regards access for the population.

Internet coverage and planning of the area are simply first steps towards the development of Saint Joseph. It is now necessary to analyse the uses that could be made of coverage. What services could be offered to the population? What are their needs? Such questions should make it possible for St Joseph to obtain digital coverage of a sustainable nature, aimed at helping it to become a modern rural community.



Three topics are proposed for the next European Rural University, which will take place on 7th, 8th and 9th September 2010 in Saint-Joseph :

- Europe at the service of the rural community and its inhabitants,
- Rural professions for women,
- Culture : between heritage and innovation.

16 November 2009