Peru Launches ‘Digital Inclusion’ Program in Coca-Growing Region

Digital Inclusion-PichariPeru’s government on Wednesday officially launched a program to provide better technology to a remote, coca growing region in the southeast, state news agency Andina reported.

The pilot plan for the Yachaywasi Digital program aims to provide ‘digital inclusion’ in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys, or VRAEM.

As part of the program, more than 70 people in the Pichari district of Cusco are being given training and taking part in workshops over the next several weeks, and another 80 people in Kimbiri, including teenagers and children, are being trained at their pilot telecenter.

The classes provide basic training in hardware, software and the Internet.  They also provide training on how to use IT in the community, for work and for entrepreneurship, Andina said. 

Digital Inclusion - telecenterLegislation governing the development of the VRAEM districts requires that communities have free access to government-funded centers providing broadband connections. There will be a total of eight telecenters in the VRAEM region, including at Ayna – San Francisco and Sivia in Ayacucho, Llochegua, Kimbiri, Pichari, and Satipo, Pangoa and Mazamari. 

The idea of digital inclusion falls into a broader government policy of social inclusion, which President Ollanta Humala has stated is the centerpoint for most of his policies. The use of the Internet and other communications technology is seen as an important tool for inclusion and development.

The VRAEM is located in south-central Peru’s mountainous, jungle regions. The area is the top producer of coca leaves in Peru, which are used to make cocaine. It is also home to a splinter group of the Shining Path rebels, who regularly launch attacks on Peruvian security personnel.

The government has pledged to root out the rebels, who have managed to remain in the area since the 1980s thanks to profits from cocaine trafficking, while other Shining Path leaders have been either killed or arrested. The government aims to increase military and police presence in the area, while also promoting development.

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