surinenglish

THE BOTTOM LINE

Disconnected villages

Moving inland is an option that no longer sounds so ridiculous, especially after all we've been through recently.

I know entrepreneurs, middle-aged workers and families with children who would move to a small village with their eyes closed; tired of how expensive, noisy and uncomfortable it is to live in many districts of a city.

It is the inverse process of the rural exodus, and would be the solution for the emptying villages in Malaga province: a repopulating with new inhabitants and their families, who would like to recuperate the advantages of the lives of their grandparents; but they still need access to technology because their lives, just like nearly everybody's now, are based on it.

And there's the problem. All we're doing is beating around the bush with proposals, which are almost always costly for the public coffers, to try to persuade the existing population to stay in the town or village and to stop the schools from closing.

There are the ridiculous "baby cheques" (as if anyone would base their decision to have a child on a benefit that would barely get them through the first month) and other equally senseless and anecdotal measures.

The worst thing is that the solution, or at least much of it, is actually within reach.

Just ask prestigious professionals such as Juan Luis Cruz, who is the head of the College of Technical and Telecommunication Engineers; or the business owner Pelle Lundborg, who is originally from Sweden but linked to Carratraca.

They both say the same: what is really needed is for broadband internet access, via the new 5G or through fibre optic cables, to be the same for everyone, whether they live in Malaga city centre or the remotest village of the Serranía de Ronda.

You can't expect villages to attract people to live there without bearing in mind that work, education, business, leisure and many other facets of daily life, have a telematic element that requires a lot of broadband.

The sad truth is that in the majority of places that are far from the Costa or the city it is impossible to send an average volume of data without having to walk twenty times round the village square first. In some points, you can barely find a decent signal to talk on the phone.

Mayors and leaders of the provincial government, if you really want to fight against depopulation of rural areas, stop coming up with makeshift ideas and reach agreements with telecommunications operators and technicians to install cables and antennas in your municipalities.

Until then they will continue to be no more than clusters of pretty streets where it's nice to spend the weekend from time to time... when we want to switch off!