Bridgetown, Barbados, January 27, 2015 – In the Caribbean, broadband services are beleaguered by high costs and low quality connections, plus approximately only one in every eight persons has access to such services. Recent IDB studies reveal that a ten per cent increase in broadband penetration can increase economic growth by up to 3.19% and productivity by up to 2.61%.
Furthermore, access to efficient broadband services can reduce the cost of educational services by up to 90% and drop health care service costs by as much as 25%. Given these findings, it is evident that broadband can serve as a catalyst for development and competitiveness.
Compete Caribbean recently supported the inclusion of the OECS as a larger initiative being executed by the IDB which promotes universal and affordable broadband services through digital inclusion. Among other outputs related to improving connectivity in the region, the project also included the creation of broadband and infrastructure maps for the OECS which will be included in the DigiLAC platform, which is expected to promote a greater dialogue on issues related to broadband in the Caribbean and the Hemisphere in general.
The maps include 37 socio-economic variables as detailed as the parish level which are the basis for a broadband development index which captures the overall state of broadband services in each jurisdiction. Additionally, they feature 13 indicators that represent the stage of development of broadband in relation to other services such as health care and access to electricity.
The maps will serve to raise awareness regarding policies that support broadband implementation in each country and assist public and private decision makers as the region strives to integrate into a single ICT space that provides better, faster, and more reliable connectivity to everyone in the Caribbean.