The connectivity gap is more pronounced when one compares urban and rural communities, sometimes amounting
 to a 40 percentage-point gap.  - A.M. Costa Rica illustrative photo -

Published Thursday, November 5, 2020

77 million people in Latin America
can't access internet, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The groundbreaking research called "Rural Connectivity in Latin America and the Caribbean, a Bridge to Sustainable Development During a Pandemic" by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, IICA, located in Coronado Canton, San José Province, in a joined a research  with the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB, and Microsoft.

The study, which focused on 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries, indicated that a vast 71% of the urban population in Latin America and the Caribbean have connectivity options, yet only 37% of their counterparts in rural areas are internet-connected. An astounding 32% of the Latin American and Caribbean population, 244 million people, have no internet access.

The connectivity gap is more pronounced when one compares urban and rural communities, sometimes amounting to a 40 percentage-point gap. Of the total amount of individuals with no internet access, 46 million live in rural areas.

The research identified major limitations in the availability of official statistics, which made it difficult to provide a more accurate assessment of the true level of connectivity in rural areas of the Americas. Only 50% of countries in the region have a precise measurement of the level of rural connectivity.

According to Manuel Otero, the Director General of IICA, the study will be useful for " drastically reducing the gaps that are hindering development. The rural-urban connectivity gap is an issue that demands the greatest level of attention."

The absence of connectivity is not merely a technological barrier. It also represents a barrier to health, education, social services, work and the overall economy. "If we do not bridge this gap, the divide will continue to expand, and we will allow a region that is already the most inequitable in the world to become even more inequitable," Marcelo Carbrol, Social Sector Manager at the IDB said.

Connectivity provides a population with many opportunities to work and generate income, to acquire the knowledge and information that facilitates this work, as well as to access telemedicine health services and online educational content. "It is particularly important that we stress the positive and extensive social and production impact that full connectivity will provide to rural areas," said Luciano Braverman, Director of Education at Microsoft Latin America.

IICA, IDB and Microsoft undertook this research because the partner organizations believe that promoting connectivity is essential in fueling agricultural production and economic, social & Community development in rural areas. A full copy of the report can be reached at IICA's website.

Could his research serve as a guide for reducing the rural connectivity gaps.? 
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