US$115 million loan to improve digital connectivity for the poor

The Chamber of Deputies approved a loan for US$115 million, signed with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The loan is to finance the Program to Improve Digital Connectivity in the Dominican Republic. The program will be implemented parallel with Claro and Altice carrying out the installation of 5G frequencies nationwide primarily in major cities. The bill is likely also to pass in the Senate, where the ruling Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) is majority.

The plenary of the lower house approved the initiative with 72 votes in favor, 46 votes against and 19 abstentions.

The IDB had approved the loan in July 2021. The project will boost the level of digitalization of the population to step up access of the population to the enhanced connectivity.

The IDB project will finance investments to expand broadband infrastructure, including the expansion of backbone, aggregation and access networks in order to improve connectivity for the country’s citizens.

The operation will include private sector participation and support the deployment of infrastructure in areas that would not be economically profitable on their own, thus ensuring resource optimization. With this approach, both the public and the private sectors will contribute to reduce the digital gap and foster the sustainability of this type of infrastructure in the country.

In addition, the IDB’s project will endorse moves to improve broadcasting services, paving the way for transitioning from analog to digital television and enhancing digital abilities and competencies. One key aspect of the project is its promotion of policies that support digital dividend spectrum auctions in order to boost universal access.

It will also finance courses to train people how to use equipment and technology with a gender perspective to help citizens develop their digital skills, stepping up access to digital services and fostering their adoption and continuity of use. These digital abilities will be crucial for the implementation and productive use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), benefiting some four million low-income people, with a strong emphasis on women.

Enhanced connectivity will reach some 108 municipalities that either lack or have only one wired internet service network, benefiting more than two million people. An additional 56 municipalities that are home to 8.1 million people will get improved broadcast services, including the implementation of digital TV.

The IDB is financing the project with a US$115 million loan for a 25-year term, a 6.1-year grace period, and interest rate based on LIBOR.

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Diario Libre


20 October 2021