Jonathan Keane, freelance journalist, living in Ireland, covering business and technology writes, "Mexico needs new investment and competition to close its enormous digital divide"
|Photo: IDG Connect|
"Seemingly every nation wants to be known as a tech hub in one form or another. Efforts are rife throughout Central and South America but this isn’t possible without a tech-savvy population and the infrastructure to back it up. You need to be tech competent before becoming a tech hub."
Mexico, one of the countries vying for a “techy” mantle, has identified the need for greater education for young children in a country where high school dropout rates are worryingly high.
Digital divides are well documented. They can result in discrimination and leave certain communities in the dust when it comes to information and career opportunities. Mexico, with an internet penetration of about 43%, has lagged behind but it is now growing.
Various schemes have emerged to get more people online but also to pursue technology careers. The government-funded program Mexico Conectado [Spanish] runs initiatives to bring broadband to public areas and counts Cisco among its partners. Mexico Conectado already represents about 250,000 public spaces across the country, which mostly includes schools, hospitals, and libraries.
The scheme is moving into the state of Hidalgo next, which will pose a couple of challenges where some towns and regions lack adequate electricity supply. Another investment is hoped to benefit 40,000 families in the town of Merida [in Yucatan].
Mexico Conectado also recently held a robotics contest for children between the ages of 8 and 13 in the hopes of stimulating their interest in technology. The free courses are available in most Mexican states. These efforts are intended to overall address the digital literacy gaps in Mexico and foster a tech-savvy future.
How to get the internet into rural areas
Narrowing such a digital divide demands a very long term view though. More than half of the population still isn’t online. A recurring theme in Latin America is the challenge of bringing the internet to remote rural areas. Naturally, urban centres with large populations attract investment from operators but it creates a staggering gap between urban dwellers and rural residents.
While the majority of Mexico’s population live in urban areas, some 26 million still live in rural regions.
Source: IDG Connect