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Can Developing Countries Really Have Internet Access? Project Loon Makes it Possible


At Parsan Cross our approach to finding innovative development solutions adheres to two very simple principles: First, any innovative development solution must address a huge problem in the developing world, as evidenced by a correlation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Second, this innovative development solution must employ relatively feasible technology appropriately scaled and nuanced for our (Latin America and the Caribbean) region. Periodically, we will showcase an innovative development solution in this thought leadership blog. This week we take a look at Project Loon.

1) Who is the Innovative Solution Finder?

X (formerly Google X), the American semi-secret research and development facility founded by Google and operating as a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.


2) What’s the Huge Problem? Providing internet access to rural and remote areas of the developing world (in other words more than half of [if gte vml 1]><v:shape id="_x0000_s1027" style='position:absolute;margin-left:262pt;margin-top:160.85pt; width:293pt;height:164pt;z-index:251655168;mso-wrap-distance-left:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-top:12pt;mso-wrap-distance-right:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-bottom:12pt;mso-position-horizontal:absolute; mso-position-horizontal-relative:page;mso-position-vertical:absolute; mso-position-vertical-relative:page' coordsize="21600,21600" wrapcoords="-55 0 -55 21501 21600 21501 21600 0 -55 0" strokeweight="1pt"> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:/Users/user/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image003.png" o:title=""></v:imagedata> <w:wrap type="through" anchorx="page" anchory="page"></w:wrap> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif][if gte vml 1]><v:shape id="_x0000_s1028" style='position:absolute;margin-left:79pt;margin-top:212.45pt; width:68pt;height:68pt;z-index:251656192;mso-wrap-distance-left:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-top:12pt;mso-wrap-distance-right:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-bottom:12pt;mso-position-horizontal:absolute; mso-position-horizontal-relative:page;mso-position-vertical:absolute; mso-position-vertical-relative:page' coordsize="21600,21600" wrapcoords="-237 0 -237 21363 21600 21363 21600 0 -237 0" strokeweight="1pt"> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:/Users/user/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image005.png" o:title=""></v:imagedata> <w:wrap type="through" anchorx="page" anchory="page"></w:wrap> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif][if gte vml 1]><v:shape id="_x0000_s1029" style='position:absolute;margin-left:184pt;margin-top:500.15pt; width:244pt;height:152pt;z-index:251657216;mso-wrap-distance-left:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-top:12pt;mso-wrap-distance-right:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-bottom:12pt;mso-position-horizontal:absolute; mso-position-horizontal-relative:page;mso-position-vertical:absolute; mso-position-vertical-relative:page' coordsize="21600,21600" wrapcoords="-66 0 -66 21494 21600 21494 21600 0 -66 0" strokeweight="1pt"> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:/Users/user/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image007.png" o:title=""></v:imagedata> <w:wrap type="through" anchorx="page" anchory="page"></w:wrap> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif]the population in Latin America and the Caribbean).

More than 4 billion people or 55% of the world’s population, mostly in the developing world, still don’t have access to the internet. Only 43.4% of all households in Latin America and the Caribbean were connected to the Internet in 2015. Simply segmented the problem of providing internet access to rural and remote areas of the developing world falls into four buckets: Infrastructure (countries are poor with large rural or remote populations); Affordability (high cost of devises and 3G connectivity access); Skills awards and cultural acceptance (illiteracy); Local adoption and use (creating relevant local content translated into local language). Improving internet access in developing countries to levels in developed countries would generate more than $2 trillion in additional GDP. Moreover, Latin America needs about $400 billion in investment through 2020, or the equivalent of $700 per inhabitant, to close the digital divide. Only 54.4% of the inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean used the Internet in 2015.


3) What’s the SDG Correlation?

SDG Goal 9- which is to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. Specifically, Target 9c which is to significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020,[if gte vml 1]><v:shape id="_x0000_s1030" style='position:absolute; margin-left:349pt;margin-top:319pt;width:210pt;height:210pt;z-index:251658240; mso-wrap-distance-left:12pt;mso-wrap-distance-top:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-right:12pt;mso-wrap-distance-bottom:12pt; mso-position-horizontal:absolute;mso-position-horizontal-relative:page; mso-position-vertical:absolute;mso-position-vertical-relative:page' coordsize="21600,21600" wrapcoords="-77 0 -77 21523 21600 21523 21600 0 -77 0" strokeweight="1pt"> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:/Users/user/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image009.png" o:title=""></v:imagedata> <w:wrap type="through" anchorx="page" anchory="page"></w:wrap> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif] with the 9.C.1. indicator measuring the proportion of population covered by a mobile network, by