The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of a $5.4 million loan to for a program to promote the use of information and communication technologies in the Dominican Republic.
The program will help the Dominican Republic draft a national strategy to create appropriate conditions for the development of an “information society.” It will also provide resources to finance pilot projects that will expand citizens’ and businesses’ access to these technologies.
At present, only four in 100 Dominicans have access to Internet, a ratio below the regional average. In Trinidad and Tobago, 11 in 100 people have access to Internet, while in Chile the ratio is 20 in 100 people.
The IDB-supported program will support a mechanism to define consensus-based policies among the Dominican public and private sectors and civil society, with participation of government officials, business people, academics and civil society representatives.
The program will also finance three pilot projects, including one that will establish a network of 20 telecentros that will provide citizens and businesses access to Internet, computer training and other technological services. IDB resources will be used to equip the centers with computers, software, Internet connections and generators to ensure a reliable power supply.
The telecentros, which are expected to become financially self-sufficient, will be run by civil society groups, universities or businesses that will be selected in an open contest. The program aims to establish at least one center in each of the country’s nine regions.
Another pilot project will support the creation of the Dominican Business Portal, which will provide information and services via Internet. The portal will also help businesses access all government agencies, saving them time, travel and costs.
The program will also provide resources for a project that will foster the development of e-commerce in the Dominican Republic by establishing laws to facilitate electronic transactions.
The program reflects the strategy shared by the IDB and the Dominican Republic of increasing the public sector’s effectiveness and improving the climate for business.
The loan was granted for a 25-year term, with a 36-month grace period, and at a variable interest rate. Local counterpart funds will total $600,000.
- Peter Bate