Case Study By
Professor Mercedes Aráoz
Professor and Former VP and Minister of Peru
State of Broadband 2021
The pandemic had increased the number of poor people all over the world, the impact was higher in the rural areas in which 80% of the poorest of the world live. Digital inclusion can enable vulnerable people to thrive and be resilient to external shocks such as pandemics and climate change related phenomena, among others. It is time for pushing forward digital inclusion to provide people instruments to avoid returning to poverty and improve their livelihoods. It is urgent to achieve 2025 targets.
Governments should imbed digital tools in their social programs, for example: electronic wallets and other means of payments. At the same time, promote financial inclusion through digital savings, loans, and payments. During the Pandemic, many developing governments couldn’t reach their most vulnerable population with emergency subsidies because they were not connected or not able to use digital tolls, their social programs weren’t prepared to use electronic transfers; as a result, there was a spread of COVID19 related to the agglomeration of people for collecting those subsidies. This could be avoided and the poor in rural areas, using these digital financial tools could achieve the benefits of financial inclusion, like market access, access to technical resources, etc.
It is important to focus on digital education, especially for women and the youth, to improve their employment opportunities and their entrepreneurial skills. Unemployment has increased given the intermittent shutdowns; the informal sector has also grown. Those without digital skills probably will be left out of the labor markets, given the new demands of firms. Women usually have the greater burden. Governments, together with the private sector, can reduce digital illiteracy if they work together. There are good private public partnership providing capacity building. These programs should be extended all over.
Opportunities for SMEs are now in the digital world, given the changes in the way people trade, so connectivity should be our concentration, particularly in rural areas. The pandemic has shown that small farms are main suppliers of food systems, but don’t benefit of them, they receive very low prices given the multiple stages to get to the markets, the same for smalls crafters. This can be change if they have connectivity. Governments must promote the investment in and the use of broadband to reduce poverty.