The Ecuadorian government is reportedly seeking to team up with American technology schools, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in a bid to develop a digital economy and lessen its dependency on mineral exports.
According to a report on web portal Truthout, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa recently visited the United States to meet with staff and students from various universities including Harvard, Yale and MIT. Ecuador appears to be asking the U.S. universities for help with drawing up a syllabus for its technology institutes.
The South American country, where the number of broadband consumers is growing at record pace, is investing millions of dollars to bolster its higher education sector. “In 2013, 1.83 percent of public spending as a percentage of total GDP went toward higher education,” Truthout reported.
IT community centers, which provide residents easy access to the Internet and online technology, are at the center of Ecuador’s plans to build a knowledge economy is.
This year Ecuador is setting up 302 infocentros, a local term for IT community centers, according to Mintel, the country’s telecom ministry. Also in the offing is a plan to set up Wi-Fi networks in more than 2,400 schools.
The government is also considering making it mandatory for teachers to obtain digital certificates before signing up for the teaching service.
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s ICT infrastructure is going from strength to strength. According to Supertel, Ecuador’s telecom regulator, the number of Internet users has grown 37% in the past year, while broadband and fiber connections increased to 9.5 million in March 2013 from a mere 1.5 million users four years ago.
In addition, Ecuador’s strong ICT infrastructure is pushing down broadband prices across the country. As a result, nearly 30% of broadband customers are today using 3G and 4G technology. Improved Internet access is persuading a lot of youths to launch a career in the technology sector, analysts say.