Saint Helenians are being asked to add their weight to the campaign to secure a high-speed internet link for their island.
Here’s one contribution on the campaign website, from Johnny Clingham, an island blogger now exiled to the UK:
‘I’m an IT engineer and I would love to return to my island to start an IT business, but because of the slow, expensive and unreliable internet connection, this is simply impossible.’
It’s been suggested that poor internet access could compromise efforts to establish a viable economy on the island.
At present, the island’s sole internet connection is via a Cable & Wireless satellite that is sometimes blocked by ‘sun outages’. The resident population of 4,000 people – including the government, schools and health service – has to share a connection with only half the bandwidth enjoyed by many individual households in Europe.
A fibre-optic cable is to be laid between South Africa and America, passing within 50 miles of St Helena. The company involved is willing to divert the cable; campaigners hope to persuade the UK government to put up a few million pounds to meet the additional cost involved.
The campaign is also being backed by the internet pressure group A Human Right: Everyone Connected, based in San Francisco. The organisation, which says it is now working with the United Nations, asks people to ‘imagine a future where everyone on
Earth has a voice.’