We are excited to announce that the Dominican Republic has become the newest member country of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI). This development was formalised at a ceremony today in Santo Domingo where Mr. Gideon Santos, president of the Board of lNDOTEL, and Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of A4AI, signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The Dominican Republic becomes the fourth country to join the Alliance and the first in Latin America — fellow member countries to date are Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique. You can read the full press release in English or in Spanish.
In the past decade, the Government of the Dominican Republic has successfully implemented several programs to enhance access to and use of the Internet in both urban and rural areas, but there is still some way to go. According to the World Bank, almost half (46%) of the Dominican population currently use the Internet. By contrast, Internet penetration figures in nearby Puerto Rico are 74%, whilst Trinidad & Tobago clocks in at 64%. Prices for mobile broadband services in the Dominican Republic remain high — a basic 500 MB broadband package would cost the average citizen over a quarter of their monthly income. By contrast, citizens of nearby Jamaica pay just under 5% of their monthly income for a similar package. A4AI’s key objective is to work with the government of the Dominican Republic and a wide range of local organisations to drive down broadband prices to the UN Broadband Commission target of 5% or less of monthly income, thereby enabling millions more Dominicans to come online.
So what comes next? A4AI will work hand-in-hand with the Dominican government, telecommunications regulator, and other local stakeholders to build a strong, diverse national coalition comprising key players from the country’s public, private and not-for-profit sectors. This coalition will be tasked with identifying key regulatory and policy barriers to affordable broadband access in the Dominican Republic, and with developing and implementing creative solutions to address them. A4AI, drawing on the broad global experience of its members, will support and guide this process, and will inform key decisions with robust original research. We can’t wait to get started.
Image Credit: Dianne Rosete on Flickr under CC licence.