WHAT would be the impact on the economy if broadband penetration in Jamaica was improved? Giswatch.org reports that there is still a relatively low level of broadband access for the majority of citizens in Jamaica and that over 70 per cent of households still do not have access to a computer.
With many schools still unable to pursue face-to-face teaching, the disconnect in broadband services is taking a toll on students. Schools have reported distributing tablets to students who have no access to data and so never attend classes.
The Jamaica Observer reached out to Minister of Education Fayval Williams for an update on how data affordability among students and their parents will be addressed, however, no response has been forthcoming.
Giswatch.org says that these factors are serious constraints on the Government's move to improve democracy through e-government, which is defined as “the use of the Internet and Internet-based technologies for seamless transactions online between government agencies, citizens, business and other government agencies”.
In addition to streamlining governance and education, researchers ( Zaballos and López-Rivas 2012) indicate that they found that a 10 per cent increase in fixed broadband penetration triggered an average increase of 3.19 per cent in per capita GDP.
Zaballos, Antonio García, and Rubén López-Rivas make this assertion in their Inter-American Development Bank report titled Socioeconomic Impact of Broadband in Latin American and Caribbean Countries.
A later study (Zaballos et al 2019) found that if investment in digital infrastructure were increased by 10 per cent in a year in all the countries in the study (all else being equal), around 375,000 people in the region under study would be lifted out of poverty and around 360,000 people in the region would cease to suffer from hunger.