How this election will be powered by digital infrastructure.

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It is essential to recognise how pivotal the telecoms sector is to South Africa’s present and future. South Africans Set to Return to Polls in Historic Election Anniversary

In a matter of days, South Africans will head to the polls, marking 30 years since the nation’s first election with universal suffrage, an event Nelson Mandela famously declared as the “dawn of our freedom.”

Memories of those early democratic days linger in the hearts of many. In 1994, South Africans queued for hours, even days, to cast their votes in an election that symbolized the birth of a new era. Nearly 20 million votes were painstakingly counted by hand from 9,000 polling stations, with ballot papers physically transported to counting centers, taking days to process the results.

Fast forward to Wednesday, 29 May 2024, and the electoral landscape has dramatically transformed. A total of 27.8 million registered voters are set to cast their ballots at 23,303 voting stations, overseen by a dedicated workforce of 202,500 voting officials. This election promises to unfold in real time, thanks to South Africa’s robust digital infrastructure.

Real-Time Election Monitoring

The results will be processed and collated at the National Results Centre, located at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand. The transparency of this milestone election is made possible by South Africa’s continent-leading digital infrastructure, allowing millions to witness the democratic process in real-time.

This election day not only commemorates a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history but also underscores the critical role of digital infrastructure in modern society. The country celebrates World Telecommunication and Information Society Day this month, highlighting the significance of connectivity and digital advancements.

Digital Infrastructure: The Backbone of Modern Elections and Economy

South Africa’s digital infrastructure extends beyond facilitating elections. It powers the digital economy, crucial for the nation’s broader economic landscape as various sectors and industries increasingly digitize their operations.

The rapid deployment of next-generation technologies like 5G is a testament to the telecommunications sector’s commitment to driving the digital economy. In 2022, 5G coverage reached 20% of the population; by 2023, it had surged to over 38%. Meanwhile, 4G/LTE coverage stands at an impressive 98.8%, catering to domestic and small business needs, such as remote work, content streaming, and other digital services.

The Future of 5G in South Africa

The advancement of 5G technology opens the door to more sophisticated applications. Some network operators have already introduced 5G-enabled smart mining initiatives, incorporating solutions like proximity detection, remote monitoring, and autonomous vehicles to enhance mining efficiency and safety.

As South Africa stands on the brink of another historic election, the nation reflects on its journey towards freedom and democracy, powered by the very digital infrastructure that continues to shape its future.

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