Nicaragua/WB: Access to Telecommunications for 200,000 Nicaraguans in Rural Areas

June 14, 2012

Rural Telecommunications Project to Receive US$5 Million Credit in Additional Financing

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2012 — The World Bank Board of Directors approved today the extension of the Rural Telecommunications Project with an additional credit of US$5 million, in order to expand access to telecommunications services among more than 200,000 rural inhabitants in the Caribbean coast and Rio San Juan Department in Nicaragua.

The Rural Telecommunications Project, implemented since 2007 through an initial financing of US$7 million, has already installed new broadband Internet access points in 101 municipalities, expanded mobile phone coverage to 37 rural communities, and installed almost 600 public phones in rural areas.

These US$5 million in additional financing will support Government efforts to reduce the cost of telecommunications services and expand opportunities for the inhabitants of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) and South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS), Alto Wanki Territory and Rio San Juan Department in Nicaragua’s southeast. In these areas, poverty levels reach almost 55 percent and poverty is especially prevalent in indigenous and Afro-descendants living in small communities, away from national communication networks.

“With the extension of this project, we will be able to increase regional access to telecommunications services by at least 40 percent, something that will have a positive effect on the local economy,” said Orlando Castillo, Executive President of the Nicaraguan Telecommunications and Posts Institute (TELCOR).

The Project will continue to expand the telecenter network to facilitate access to low cost mobile phone and Internet services in rural communities in the Caribbean coast and Rio San Juan, along with municipal governments, NGOs and the local private sector.

It will also support institutional strengthening in TELCOR, the regulatory body for the sector, and provide technical assistance to beneficiary communities through the creation of e-Government data centers in the North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions (RAAN-RAAS). These data centers will enable the design and implementation of several programs, among them possible distance learning initiatives, programs to improve productive capacity, the quality of healthcare and disaster prevention.

“The expansion of this initiative will benefit more than 200,000 people in remote rural areas of Nicaragua, facilitating their access to new communication technologies and creating new development opportunities for them,” said Camille Nuamah, World Bank Representative in Nicaragua.

The new financing will also cover technical assistance, equipment and training required to establish the Institutional Development Unit (UCP / TELCOR). Additionally, it will support a more effective coordination of project monitoring and assessment (including periodic audits).

This project is executed by TELCOR for a period ending March 31st, 2015. The US$5 million credit is provided by the International Development Association (IDA) with a 40-year maturity period, including a ten-year grace period.



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