Nearshore Americas
Nicaragua broadband Internet fiber optic

72 Million Lack High-Speed Internet Access in Rural LATAM: IDB

As many as 72 million rural residents in Latin America and the Caribbean lack adequate Internet access, according to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Citing the low concentration of people in rural areas, the IDB says there are “limited incentives” for Latin American countries to encourage ICT investments there. Big telcos tend to stay away from rural areas fearing poor ROIs.

About five million rural inhabitants gained access to the Web during the two-year period since early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic fuelled demand for e-commerce and digital payments.

Today, 79% of the region’s urban population has good Internet access. In rural areas, the number only reaches 43%.

In spite of the regional performance, some countries have made great progress in connecting rural areas: Argentina, Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and Uruguay.

Barbados and Belize in particular made unprecedented progress, with rural Internet penetration rates doubling in two years.

Countries with poor rural connectivity include Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador, rural Internet access barely reaches 43%.

Sign up for our Nearshore Americas newsletter:

Internet connectivity is conducive to multilateral development. People can use the Internet for education and healthcare, as well as for jobs.

While affordability and lack of competition among telcos are barriers to improving rural connectivity, many rural people are unaware of the benefits the Internet can bring to their lives, according to the World Bank.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

Add comment