Half of Latin Americans Have Internet Access, But Only 5% of Cubans Do

Familias enteras se conectan al wifi en el centro de Pinar del Río. (14ymedio)
Whole families connect to WiFi in central Pinar del Río (14ymedio)

Half of the population of Latin America is still without internet access, while only 10% have broadband and 20% are connected via mobile phones, according to data from the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) published Friday in Miami. However, Cuba is one of the most technologically backward countries in the world, with a penetration rate to the network of only 5%, which is reduced to 1% for broadband.

The report notes that, despite advances in digitization projects in the region, the absence of digital coverage in Latin America is 50%, according to the study “The Ecosystem and digital Economy in Latin America.”

In businesses, according to the study, digital penetration is much higher, about 70%.

The report, to be presented in the coming weeks, was sponsored by CAF, The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), the Ibero-American Association of Research Centers and Telecommunication Enterprises (AHCIET) and the Telephonic Foundation.

In a statement, Mauricio Agudelo, a CAF telecommunications specialist, says that a significant improvement of internet access “can be achieved through public and private efforts” and added: “143 billion dollars are needed to close the digital gap between now and 2020.”

According to figures from the CAF, in the last five years the digitization of Latin America contributed 4.3% to the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generated more than 900,000 jobs, making it an essential element to mitigate the current economic slowdown.

Cuba’s government promised to connect 50% of the population to the internet from their homes and 60% from the mobile phones by 2020, according to data from the US Department of State released in March.

On the island, access to the Internet is restricted and in general the prices in public navigation rooms are very high for most of the population. In 2013, just 514,400 computers of the more than one million computers in the country were connected to the network, according to the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI).

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