The FINANCIAL — The World Bank (WB) and the Government of Nicaragua signed on August 17 an agreement to implement a project aimed at increasing broadband access and make further progress in the development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), especially in the Caribbean region of Nicaragua.
The Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) was approved by the WB Board of Executive Directors earlier this month. The US$20.1 million credit will bring overall economic benefits to the region thanks to the development of interconnected broadband infrastructure, as well as the human talent to deliver services according to market requirements, such as technical English training.
The agreement was signed on August 17 by Ivan Acosta, Minister of the Treasury and Public Credit, and Luis Constantino, World Bank representative in Nicaragua. Orlando Castillo, managing director of the Nicaraguan Telecommunications and Mail Institute (TELCOR, in Spanish) also took part in the signing ceremony, according to the World Bank.
“Starting in 2007, the Government, via TELCOR, has successfully implemented World Bank-financed programs to expand access and reduce the cost of telecommunications services in rural areas of Nicaragua. In this new phase, and taking advantage of the infrastructure deployed in the past decade, we are convinced that we will make significant progress in closing the telecommunications infrastructure gap of the Caribbean Coast, as well as increasing human talent to create jobs in the ICT industry, which will promote innovation and attract investments into the country,” said Orlando Castillo, managing director at TELCOR.
The broadband network financed by CARCIP in Nicaragua will provide broadband connectivity to some 48 locations, including schools, health care centers, universities, as well as micro, small and medium sized enterprises. By way of public-private partnerships, the idea is to expand coverage to close to 180,000 people in Nicaragua’s Caribbean region, including indigenous and Afro-descendent populations. The network will also link interconnection points with backbone lines, which will strengthen those networks connecting Nicaragua with other Caribbean countries, facilitating disaster prevention in those countries, highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
“This project goes far beyond the installation of infrastructure, it also intends to build human capacities so that Nicaraguans, especially younger workers, are able to use this infrastructure in productive ways,” explained Luis Constantino, World Bank Representative in Nicaragua. “The idea is to contribute to the development of high value added ICT-based industry that creates jobs for youth, allows improved services for the private sector, and contributes to overall economic growth in the country.”
As a result of this Program, the population will gain improved access to higher quality and less expensive ICT services. It envisages an expansion in the coverage of conventional phone, cell phone and Internet services in communities located in the Alto Coco Bocay of the Wangki River, as well as other municipalities in the Northern Caribbean Coast, up to municipalities in the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and municipalities in the Rio San Juan and Managua departments.
The US$20.1 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) —the WB arm for the poorest countries— has a 25-year maturity period and includes a 5-year grace period. Project duration is scheduled for a period of six years.