Leapfrogging Rural Development

By | June 24, 2022

Worldchanging.com describes leapfrogging as the phenomenon that occurs when underdeveloped countries skip a technology generation or more to adopt a cutting-edge system. This has happened in Africa, for example, where hundreds of thousands of citizens have gained access to cell phones and a range of applications that depend on that equipment without ever running a mile of copper wire to carry land-based telephone systems. It has also happened where the same phones provide access to pseudo-banking, bartering and currency exchange systems that boost the local economy.

In rural North America, this leapfrogging could happen at select borders as local and regional developers respond to emerging opportunities.

For the past fifteen to twenty years, remote and rural communities have struggled to access traditional Internet and hardwired communications systems, including cable television. Satellite television offered a modest alternative, while tower wireless has arrived in semi-remote communities. However, Wimax offers 100 percent penetration where traditional line-of-site WiFi fails. At the same time, 802.11g and 802.11n wireless radio links mean that the Wimax capabilities built into every new laptop could be used to provide full cellular service over the Internet at a fraction of the cost of a 3G or 4G cellular service set up systems.

By skipping hardwired systems, remote communities could build a regional network to compete with national wireless carriers and enter the global business world by building virtual offices.

Over the past two decades, natural gas utilities have brought pipeline tentacles to smaller rural communities but have yet to serve thousands more. However, your Petro-Heat solutions may already have reached the stage of obsolescence without ever being implemented. Dozens of forward-thinking communities are tackling the energy problem head-on by building closed-loop heat and power networks with geothermal, solar/photovoltaic, and wind power systems.

A reverse form of connectivity (actually a disconnection of connectivity) has taken place when railroad stub lines were shut down across North America, limiting the ability of agricultural producers to get their produce to markets. Rather than be affected by the transition, these manufacturers have built biodiesel and ethanol plants, eliminating the need to ship their products to distant markets. At the same time, they have partially decoupled the oil suppliers, which the farmers have referred to as “customers”. It’s a kind of reverse leapfrogging.

distance learning is a variation on leapfrogging, eschewing conventional classrooms in favor of more flexible and portable educational strategies at all levels. This allows for a two-way flow of instruction, with the educational potential directed both inwards towards the urban centers of the country and outwards. It’s not just the flow of information, it’s access to live video from any point where the internet can be accessed. That opens the door to hundreds of business opportunities.

To use leapfrog strategies effectively, rural development needs to focus less on what it lacks and what it can do without in terms of conventional infrastructure, access or processes while implementing forward-looking development projects.

Where will the next open door jump industry or technology be? Will it be in off-pavement transportation or in ecological conversion technologies? Will it be in unique energy transfer processes or in innovative protection systems independent of urban production environments? We just don’t know. However, with technological breakthroughs, rural entrepreneurs and community leaders should refrain from mimicking city systems and explore new ways to circumvent existing dinosaurs and location-based infrastructure.

Thanks to Robert Frederick Lee | #Leapfrogging #Rural #Development

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