By Narayan Ammachchi
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and NewCom International joined to provide satellite internet access to millions of people living in remote rural areas across Latin America and the Caribbean.
Their collaboration has already been successful in Colombia, where they gave broadband access to 12 community centers and 26 schools, benefiting more than 4,200 students.
The program will now be extended to all countries in the region, USAID said in a press release. However, the price tag for the program has yet to be disclosed by the U.S. agency.
The broadband service will leverage the latest telecommunication technologies, allowing people in the region access to education, healthcare, as well as economic improvement.
“Access to the internet and electricity is the foundation for many elements of development,” said Mark Lopes, USAID’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean. “This partnership with NewCom goes directly to that by connecting remote communities in the Americas to the rest of the world, training at-risk youth in new fields, and introducing farmers to new markets.”
In Colombia, the program has already brought internet access to several extremely remote and conflict-prone communities, which now have an online connection to their local government, access to educational resources for children, sustainable and improved cell phone service, and refrigeration.
USAID stated that it will provide the broadband service that people can afford, because its primary aim is to help people improve their living standards. In addition to providing internet access, USAID is leading efforts to supply solar panels to households.
More than anything else, the program will benefit small-scale farmers and rural-based entrepreneurs who will now be able to connect with distant markets. Such broadband programs, USAID believes, will spur the growth of mobile financial services in the rural areas.
“We are truly honored to be a part of the solution to economic expansion by providing access and opportunity through technological expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean with USAID,” commented Dora Mejia, vice-president of NewCom International. “At NewCom International, this project underscores our mission to elevate business, foster education, and promote economic growth by providing the technology that opens the door to 21st century communications.”