Brazilian Government Plans the Creation of 100,000 Telecenters by 2014

Brazilian National Broadband Plan The Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva has signed this year the National Broadband Plan which includes the creation of one hundred thousand public community telecenters by 2014. The initiative is one of many digital inclusion actions by the Brazilian government to guarantee universal Internet access to a population of about 190 million people.

Gems of the Earth started one of the pioneer digital inclusion projects in Brazil, the Gems of the Earth Rural Community Telecenter Network. The pilot project was established in 2002 in 5 small rural communities in one of the poorest areas of Brazil, the Jequitinhonha  Valley in the northeast part of the country. The five communities have been enabled with high speed Internet access via satellite. The effects of the impact of the communities' access to cyberspace have been published by academic researchers associated with the project. The most prominent effect is the graduation of several community members in online college degree programs recognized by the Brazilian Ministry of Education.

Since its inception, the Gems of the Earth community has been promoting the idea of a national network of telecenters as the quickest pathway to integration of the Brazilian society in cyberspace. In 2002, an article was written to introduce the concept of telecenters and used the electronic electoral system as a reference to identify the order of magnitude of a national network of telecenters. The article identified 85,765 voting collection points used to guarantee the right to vote to the entire population, and suggested the cost of implementation of such a network of telecenters.

Later in 2007, a more extensive article called for the creation of 100,000 telecenters by analyzing the impact of on-going pilot projects, and indicating the actions required in the part of the federal government to lead the effort to expand the current network to reach 100,000 telecenters in 5 years. A summary of this article was published in the Opinion section of the magazine A Rede (The Net). Section 4.2 of the Brazilian National Broadband Plan (page 112) describes the creation of 100,000 telecenters by 2014. 

This development is a recognition of the pioneer efforts of the founders of Gems of the Earth in Brazil as their actions influenced the national digital inclusion agenda in a clear and direct form. Gems of the Earth now takes a global role in promoting universal access to cyberspace.