The World Bank approved a US$ 200 million loan to support Argentina's digital transformation and the closing of the digital divide by expanding the connectivity offer, building a network of data centers, and implementing digital skills training for individuals and enterprises.
We are living in the century of the technology and knowledge revolution. The fight against poverty inexorably requires investment in infrastructure and equipment to narrow the digital gap, said Sergio Massa, Argentina Minister of Economy. This program is not only 200 million dollars, it is also the opportunity for thousands of girls and boys from all over the country to access connectivity and equipment in order to reduce that gap.
The project Strengthening data infrastructure to close the digital divide in Argentina seeks to directly benefit 350,000 residents of areas without internet connections in 300 communities, 350,000 national and sub”-national government employees, and 15,000 individuals, mostly women, by providing training to strengthen their digital skills.
“The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the enormous inequality of digital access. This project invests in digital inclusion to improve connectivity access and quality in the most neglected rural areas,” said Jordan Schwartz, World Bank director for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. “Universal connectivity and improved data infrastructure help ensure the continuity of digital service provision and access to new job and business opportunities,” he said.
The project will focus on three activities:
• Expansion of broadband infrastructure to provide internet access in remote areas.
• Launch of four new decentralized data centers. This network will improve data resilience, efficiency and security, minimizing the impacts of possible climate shocks. Data centers will also prioritize energy efficiency.
• Training courses in collaboration with universities and local actors to give people and enterprises the opportunity to improve their digital skills. Additionally, the project will provide incentives to design, test and implement digital solutions, including training for the application of digital technologies in agriculture to promote efficiency and climate change adaptation.
This project to close the digital divide in Argentina is financed with a variable spread loan with a maturity period of 32 years and 7.5-year grace period.