Four years ago, the newly formed Colombian Ministry of Information Technology and Communications pledged to have 100 percent Internet access across the country by 2015. That goal is soon becoming a reality, with 96 percent of the country already connected via fiber-optic or satellite Internet.
The program is called “Vive Digital,” which means “Live Digital,” and its goal is to bridge the gap between connected urban Colombians and those living in rural communities who had no Internet access until recently. The Ministry of ICT states the increasingly well known fact that greater digital connectivity leads to higher employment, greater economic output and significantly reduced poverty rates.
Colombia is following the lead of another South American country. Chile recently achieved universal Internet access, and has since seen a 2.6 percent drop in nationwide unemployment. Colombia hopes for similar results.
The Ministry of ICT and the Colombian government hope that “Vive Digital” will inspire development in rural communities as well as bolster the ICT sector within Colombia’s urban areas. “It’s been proven that there’s a direct correlation between that massification, job creation and poverty reduction. Removing barriers to technology access is key to this objective,” said the minister of ICT, David Luna.
The initiative has seen some 8,000 Internet access points and hot spots set up across the country. These facilities house computers, printers, scanners and phones so as to connect all communities across Colombia. In addition the Ministry has provided 1 million computers to public schools and launched ICT training programs for publicly employed teachers. The Ministry of ICT expects to meet its 100 percent goal by the end of 2015.
– Joe Kitaj