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A Kyrgyz Teenager Takes His Village Digital

A Kyrgyz Teenager Takes His Village Digital
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Set in an alpine valley reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, Kyrgyzstan’s village of Suusamyr, a hamlet of a few thousand people, is not exactly a regional communications hub.

But one 17-year-old boy is helping to change that.

Suusamyr resident Ibragim Belgych attends school in the mornings and connects his neighbors to a community Internet network in the afternoons. He is the only person on hand to do the job.

Belgych’s work is part of a project by the Kyrgyz chapter of the Internet Society, an international
non-governmental organization that sees “digital development” as “the way forward” for underdeveloped areas of Kyrgyzstan like Suusamyr.

For years, livestock supported families in the village, a rugged three-hour drive southwest of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. But now, tourism has made decent Internet access a priority.

As of 2017, 38.20 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s predominantly rural population of just over 6 million had Internet access, according to the International Telecommunications Union. That ranks at the mid-point for Central Asia, but relatively low compared with international rates.

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