Internet Accessibility in the Dominican Republic
Intelsat, an international satellite communications organization, is partnering “with coreNOC, Audio Union International and KM Systems and an undisclosed capital fund” to deliver affordable high-speed internet to rural areas of the Dominican Republic. In collaboration with the Dominican Republic government, the endeavor will help provide “a nationwide wireless internet and infrastructure system for the Ministry of Education.” Expanding internet accessibility in the Dominican Republic will benefit schoolchildren in the more rural and impoverished regions of the Dominican Republic by allowing them access to quality learning materials and lessons. The endeavor will also create more jobs in the telecommunications sector in the Dominican Republic, aiding in economic growth.

Internet Access in the Dominican Republic

Approximately 15% of the Dominican Republic’s population, or approximately 1.6 million people, live in rural areas. In these areas, internet accessibility has lagged. In 2016, internet accessibility in the Dominican Republic reached slightly more than 50% of the country’s population.

Adding and maintaining internet access is expensive and Dominican rural residents are often more impoverished than the rest of the island. The poverty in the rural sections of the Dominican Republic stems from the destruction of recurring natural disasters as well as an unproductive agricultural sector.

Benefiting School Children

In the Dominican Republic, in 2018, only 69% of children in rural areas had access to the internet. As a nation with “one of the world’s worst education systems,” in 2014, the Dominican Republic committed to reforming its education system by updating the curriculum and building better classrooms. Adding internet accessibility to classrooms has “the potential to improve the quality of education.” According to dotmagazine, the internet “opens doorways to a wealth of information, knowledge and educational resources, increasing opportunities for learning in and beyond the classroom.” In addition, “interactive teaching methods, supported by the internet, enable teachers to give more attention to individual students’ needs and support shared learning.”

As Dominican students progress from one education level to another, studies note a high dropout rate. Many students drop out of school to provide an income for their families. Others want to avoid adding further financial stress on their household with the costs of school. However, a lack of education significantly impacts an individual’s earning potential. A survey that the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic conducted in 2015 shows that students with a high school degree “earn more than 30% higher” incomes than individuals who only completed primary school. In general, a better quality education decreases overall poverty rates and the internet has the potential to increase the quality of education in the Dominican Republic.

Benefiting the Dominican Republic Workforce

Increased internet accessibility in the Dominican Republic will bring more jobs to the rural areas of the Dominican Republic. Most telecommunications jobs exist in larger cities, such as Santo Domingo. In July 2021, the Inter-American Development Bank proposed a project to improve internet connectivity in the Dominican Republic. This project alone could generate more than 33,000 local jobs. Furthermore, the World Bank estimates that with each telecommunication job generated, two to four more jobs emerge across other business sectors too.

Looking Ahead

The Dominican Republic’s poverty rate reached about 23% in 2020. Research suggests that improving internet access also increases the chances of lower poverty and unemployment rates. Intelsat’s proposed plan to improve internet accessibility in the Dominican Republic means that the nation can expect similar positive outcomes.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr