The true story of a Romanian shepherd who use smartphone and tablet computer to navigate the internet while he is on the top of the mountains guarding his sheep seems to inspire an European Commissioner. Dacian Ciolos, a Romanian who is curently holding the EU portofolio for Agriculture, said this story could be an example for the the steps to be made by Romania to digitalize not only the cities, but also the villages.
The Romanian shepherd, nicknamed Ghita the Sheperd, first appeared in a Vodafone comercial presented as a„ true story”. Dressed in a sheep fur, traditional for shepherds in Romania, Ghita is filmed during a day of work and in the breaks, when he access the internet using the modern devices. Later, media has checked the story, saying the shepherd is real and also his IT gadgets. Also Ghita’s Facebook page has over 350 000 fans.
„I hope this comercial with Ghita Ciobanul (The Shepherd), who is accessing internet while on the mountains, would anticipate the future evolutions in Romania”; Ciolos said. The villages should not be isolated when we speak about technologies, the EU Commissioner added.
EU is granting 100 mil Euros for developing the broadband network in the rural areas, Dacian Ciolos also said.
Media coverage has come with titles like „The shepherd having national network coverage” or „The first shepherd in the history of advertising industry is making his village famous”.
Some criticism came from the farmers associations, saying the comercial looks „artificial” because in reality no shepherd has time to deal with modern technologies. Their salaries are low an most of them choose to go work abroad in EU, leaving a country that still has 9 millions sheep.
Story still reveals the gap between cities and villages in Romania. Rural area is mainly seen as a traditional and conservative environment, with people still using haycarts and horses, toilets in the yards and living in poverty. Although Romania is ranked 2nd in the world for speed of the internet, bringing new technologies in the villages is a real challenge, in a country where 40% of the population, most of them living in the rural areas, has never navigate the internet. In today’s world, you cannot be competitive without internet and this also applies in the agriculture, in the villages, EU official Dacian Ciolos explained.