Haiti has embarked on an ambitious digital program designed to give broadband access to 2.7 million people across the country over the next five years, a path-breaking initiative for the impoverished country, where only 35% of residents can browse the Web.
The rollout of fiber optic cables has begun three months after the World Bank granted US$60 million, urging the Caribbean country to boost its digital infrastructure as part of making its economy resilient to future shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program will ensure that Haitians will have excess to cheaper and faster internet connections. The World Bank has stated in a press release that the project includes developing “regulator tools” to promote competition in the digital infrastructure and services market.
The high-speed internet was long overdue in Haiti. The country came to a grinding halt when the COVID-19 pandemic led to lockdowns, forcing even service sector firms to shut down operations.
The project the World Bank says will help Haiti establish the foundations of digital resilience to respond to health, climate, and economic shocks.
Under the program, nearly 1300 public sector institutions will gain access to high-speed internet service. “This aims to improve the way the government operates and interacts with citizens, opening the door to increased accountability, transparency, and more efficient service delivery,” says the World Bank.
For developing countries, every 10% increase in broadband coverage could see a 0.5 to 1.5% increase in GDP, according to the international organization.