Brazil seeks $1 billion to bolster connectivity plan

The Ministry of Communications requested additional resources from the International Development Bank during a government mission to the US last week.

The Brazilian government requested $1 billion in funding to support a plan to deliver connectivity to the digitally excluded in the North of the country.

During a government mission to the US last week, the Brazilian delegation met the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to request the resources, on top of the $1 billion conditional credit line for investment projects granted in April. The resources will go towards providing connectivity to more than 9.2 million Brazilians who still don't have Internet access in states in the North, including the Amazon region.

According to a note published by the Brazilian government during the US visit, which was aimed at finding out more about 5G private networks and attract investments, the Ministry of Communications stated that it had secured the additional $1 billion credit during a meeting with the IDB in Washington, meaning it now had $2 billion to invest in the connectivity projects.

Contacted by ZDNet, the organization said in a statement that "IDB president Mauricio Claver-Carone maintains a close dialogue with the Brazilian government and is committed to allocating resources and expertise to support the country's digital transformation."

Additionally, the IDB said it is channeling its efforts towards providing the $1 billion credit line focused on Brazil's digital transformation, which was already approved and available to governments and SMEs in April. It added that the resources are also available for connectivity projects in the Brazilian Amazon region. However, the IDB did not confirm the additional $1 billion credit line the Brazilian government claimed to have secured last week.

"In line with the IDB Group's strategy for the recovery of Latin America and the Caribbean, Vision 2025, which has sustainability and digital transformation as pillars to contribute to the country in its efforts to resume growth, the Bank is evaluating resources for the digital transformation in Brazil according to its needs", the IDB said.

Millions of Brazilians are still lacking access to the Internet, according to figures published by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) last year. According to the study, some 71% of Brazilian households currently have access to the Internet. However, more than 20 million households are digitally excluded.

The issue of lack of connectivity is particularly noticeable in households in the poorest areas of the country, the study noted: 35% of homes in the Northeast region don't use the web, also a reality for 45% of Brazilian families on minimum wage.

The smartphone is the main device used to access the Internet in Brazil, with 99% of all users saying they use their phones for that purpose. However, more than half (58%) of Brazilians access the network exclusively through their mobile phones, with that percentage reaching 85% among the poorest population. Exclusive use of smartphones to access the Internet is also prevalent among the black population (65%), compared to 51% of the white population.

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