|Issue:||Latin America 2004|
|Topic:||Connectivity, Digital Inclusion and Social Inclusion in Brazil|
|Author:||Eunício Lopes de Oliveira|
|Title:||Minister of Communications|
Eunício Lopes de Oliveira, Brazil’s Minister of Communications, was previously elected to two terms as a Federal Deputy, or congressman. Mr Lopes served as his party’s leader in congress before his appointment to the ministry. He served on a good many of the Câmera dos Deputados’ important commissions including: Science and Technology, Information and Communications Technology, among others. The Minister has long been involved in union activities. Mr Lopes served as the president of SINDESP, was a founder and President of FENAVIST and as the President of the Commerce Federation of the Federal District. The minister has received many decorations and awards, over the years, from government, social and cultural organisations for his work on behalf of social and cultural causes. Minister Eunício Lopes de Oliveira graduated with degrees in business administration and Political Science from the Centro Universitário de Brasília – CEUB, and studied economy at the University of Fortaleza –UNIFOR.
The twenty-first century is witnessing the emergence of the age of knowledge. Information is exchanged with previously unimaginable velocity and profoundly affecting all our lives. Technology is a powerful tool for social inclusion, and a country’s technological infrastructure is crucial to its social and economic development. It is with this perspective that President Lula’s government has chosen as its principal goal the implementation of an integrated policy to promote digital inclusion. The government’s ambitious plans involve, among others, the government, the general public, and private enterprise. There are currently some 13.9 million Internet users in Brazil, but the penetration rate is only eight per cent. The majority of the users are from the two upper income classes. Given this context, the government has encouraged a series of projects – such as the Gesac, electronic government project – to facilitate public access to new technologies. Our objective is to promote citizenship by means of projects that seek to interconnect even the most remote parts of our country. The Ministry of Communications has already installed 3,200 communications units, with broadband connections to the Internet via satellite in schools, military installations and community telecentre. Computers at each of these units are freely available for public use. The programme is being extended and will soon be in place at 5,000 sites and – considering that each Gesac installation can connect as many as 14 computers – will make up to 70 thousand access points available to the public. It is estimated that more than four million people are currently being helped by the free government services the Gesac project provides to Brazil’s citizens. The government already considers this project a success and intends to expand this initiative, to reach more people and provide greater services. Accordingly, the Ministry of Communications is engaged in its Casa Brasil (Brazil House) project, which provides spaces for free, open, social interaction and allows for full public participation in the creation and dissemination of content such as public service announcements, websites and homepages for social organisations, university initiatives, professional training and distance learning.