The Bahamas needs to spend about $30 million to close the digital connectivity gap when compared to the digital penetration in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, a new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report reveals.
The report also reveals that that kind of investment in mobile and fixed infrastructure could create almost 10,000 new jobs.
According to the report, “Delays in improving connectivity and digitalization in Latin American and Caribbean countries have dramatically exacerbated the economic and social impact of COVID-19.”
IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone said in an IDB statement about the report, that the organization is working to connect countries in the region with the funds that will help to make these upgrades possible. He added that expansion in fixed and mobile connectivity will reduce inequality and create jobs and sustainable economic growth.
“The IDB is taking steps to drive a digital ecosystem that will help the region attain these investments, design national broadband plans and create the public-private partnerships needed to expand coverage for all citizens, especially those who are most vulnerable,” Claver-Carone said.
The report found that the Latin America and Caribbean region has “major broadband penetration and 4G technology coverage gaps compared with OECD countries” and that the average citizens in those countries “spend more than 20 percent of their income to access broadband services”, a level far above the International Telecommunication Union’s recommended three percent mark.
The Bahamas was listed as one of the “best-placed” regional countries, with Barbados in the lead, followed by Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and The Bahamas.
The report suggested The Bahamas has to invest more than $13.6 million in the mobile space and more than $17 million in the fixed space in order to close the connectivity gap with OECD countries.
“To close the gap, countries in the region would need $68.5 billion,” the IDB statement revealed.
“Of that total, 59 percent should go to improving connectivity in urban areas, something which is mostly handled by the private sector. In contrast, 41 percent should go to rural areas, where public investment is typically the main source of funding.”
According to the study, more public-private partnerships are needed to close the gap with OECD countries.