The connectivity gap is more pronounced when one compares urban and rural communities, sometimes amounting to a 40 percentage-point gap. - A.M. Costa Rica photo

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – An astounding 32 percent of the Latin American and Caribbean population, 244 million people, have no internet access, according to the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), located in Costa Rica, in joint research with the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB, and Microsoft.

Details of the report, published today by A.M. Costa Rica, indicate a vast 71 percent of the urban population in Latin America and the Caribbean have connectivity options, yet only 37 percent of their counterparts in rural areas are internet-connected.

The reported gives details about ground-breaking research called “Rural Connectivity in Latin America and the Caribbean, a Bridge to Sustainable Development During a Pandemic.”

The study, which focused on 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries, indicated that a vast 71 percent of the urban population in Latin America and the Caribbean have connectivity options, yet only 37 percent of their counterparts in rural areas are internet-connected.

The connectivity gap is more pronounced when one compares urban and rural communities, sometimes amounting to a 40 percentage-point gap. Of the total amount of individuals with no internet access, 46 million live in rural areas.

The research identified major limitations in the availability of official statistics, which made it difficult to provide a more accurate assessment of the true level of connectivity in rural areas of the Americas. Only 50 percent of countries in the region have a precise measurement of the level of rural connectivity.

According to Manuel Otero, IICA Director General, the study will be useful to “drastically reducing the gaps that are hindering development. The rural-urban connectivity gap is an issue that demands the greatest level of attention.”

The absence of connectivity is not merely a technological barrier. It also represents a barrier to health, education, social services, work and the overall economy. “If we do not bridge this gap, the divide will continue to expand, and we will allow a region that is already the most inequitable in the world to become even more inequitable,” said Marcelo Carbrol, IICA Social Sector Manager at the IDB.

Connectivity provides a population with many opportunities to work and generate income, to acquire the knowledge and information that facilitates this work, as well as to access telemedicine health services and online educational content. “It is particularly important that we stress the positive and extensive social and production impact that full connectivity will provide to rural areas,” said Luciano Braverman, Director of Education at Microsoft Latin America.

IICA, IDB and Microsoft undertook this research because the partner organizations believe that promoting connectivity is essential in fuelling agricultural production and economic, social and community development in rural areas.

A full copy of the report can be reached at IICA’s website.