ITU150 in August: Innovation to bridge the digital divide

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Innovating with Mirian: How do we close the digital divide?

Although 3 billion people worldwide were online and using the Internet by the end of 2014, at least 4.3 billion people were still not online, 90 per cent of whom live in the developing world. Mirian Teresita Palacios Ferreira, Chairperson of CONATEL, explains how she is working to address this digital divide in Paraguay.

Society is becoming more and more connected every day. Today, a housewife from a rural area in Paraguay is able to receive money through her mobile device from her son who works in Spain. Using the same device, she can pay her household utility bills without leaving the house. Her daughter can connect to a virtual learning platform and continue her studies after arriving home from work in the capital. Later, the whole family can have a video conference and stay connected as a unit, despite their geographic distance.

Yet in 2013, Internet penetration was only 36.9 per cent in Paraguay, meaning that the story above is not yet an option for most of the population.

Paraguay is well positioned to lay the necessary foundations so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the full range of possibilities that access to information and communication technology (ICT) brings; Paraguay is one of the fastest growing economies in South America, poverty has declined over the past decade, and there is universal access to free basic education.

But how do we build on this potential to turn Paraguay into a thriving digital economy?

This task was recently entrusted to me; as Chairperson of Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CONATEL) it is my job to capitalize on the vital role that ICTs play in national development and bring ICT access to everyone in Paraguay.

I want everyone to benefit from the opportunities offered by Internet connectivity, and turn the scenario above into a reality for every family in Paraguay.

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