Broadband connectivity to be expanded
WASHINGTON D.C., May, 22, 2012 – Today, the World Bank Board of Directors approved a US$25 million financial package to support the first phase of the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program. The program will provide 27 million people with access to better and affordable broadband services.
The Infrastructure Program is the first phase of a 10-year Information and Communications Technology (ICT) program. The first phase will focus on Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with other Caribbean countries joining at a later stage.
By improving the communications infrastructure, the program aims at fostering regional economic development and growth. The package includes a US$3 million grant to the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to coordinate the regional program; a US$10 million credit to Grenada; a US$6 million credit to Saint Lucia; and a US$6 million credit to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“A sound regional connectivity and ICT-led innovation system is vital for the Caribbean region’s growth”, said Françoise Clottes, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “This program is a unique opportunity to put in place critical infrastructure and skills to capitalize on the transformative power of Information and Communication Technologies to promote growth and open new job opportunities to Caribbean citizens. It is my hope that other countries in the region will take advantage of this opportunity to join the program”, she added.
The Caribbean region is serviced by an extensive, complex, and robust submarine network, but significant gaps remain and connectivity disruptions are hindering economic growth. There is little investment in broadband networks venturing beyond the main urban centers. Many rural areas remain largely unserved. Furthermore, the lack of emergency communications networks leaves the countries exposed to major disruptions in communications services in the face of emergencies.
The first phase of this new initiative will include technical assistance and funding to:
- Improve the regional connectivity infrastructure by expanding broadband connectivity.
- Promote ICT-led innovation and related activities that will leverage the regional broadband infrastructure to foster employment, as well as growth of a robust regional Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services industry.
- Build capacity of the governments to implement, coordinate and monitor the program at the national level.
These credits from the International Development Association (IDA) have a final maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years for Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.