We have welcomed the announcement by Government of its plans to roll out fibre broadband to every home and business in rural Ireland regardless of their location over the coming 7 years. This new National Broadband Scheme will cover 540,000 homes and businesses affecting 1.1 million people and will make rural Ireland the best-connected region in Europe.
Speaking today David Leydon, our Head of Food and AgriBusiness, said “This pro-business decision will make a very significant difference to thousands of food and agribusiness SMEs in rural Ireland who depend on fast internet speeds to help grow their businesses. In an already challenging business environment, we’re finding that Irish food and agribusinesses are in many cases putting digital at the heart of their growth plans. High speed digital connectivity is a prerequisite for growth and this decision by government makes real sense in that context.”
In terms of digital transformation which many companies are going through, broadband is still an issue in rural Ireland. In research conducted by Amarach on behalf of ifac last year only 28% of businesses in the food and agribusiness sectors reported sufficient broadband connectivity. This is impacting on business growth with online trading slow to get going with only 7% of companies doing a significant level of online trading. Social media, however, is an important marketing communication channel for 62% of businesses. Here, Facebook outperforms all other social platforms in terms of usage and effectiveness.