USTDA ICT Investment Strengthens Brazil’s Economic Resilience Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the last several years, the State of Ceará in northeast Brazil has placed a high priority on information and communication technology (ICT) to fuel economic growth and provide new opportunities to its citizens. USTDA-funded assistance helped the state develop a broadband network that is one of Brazil’s largest and fastest, providing a variety of public services including telemedicine, distance education, digital television and videoconferencing to nearly 90 percent of Ceará’s urban population. Built with American technology, this network has enhanced Ceará’s economic resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With new investment from a local consortium, in partnership with the State of Ceará, the upgraded network was able handle the sudden spike in demand that happened when the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out. Within the first 15 days of the pandemic, the State of Ceará experienced an approximate 50 percent increase in internet traffic and is still capable of handling more. Simply put, USTDA’s assistance to the State of Ceará helped create the conditions for such a resilient network.

The USTDA-funded technical assistance, completed in 2015, provided the Information Technology Company of the State of Ceará (ETICE) with recommendations for a new business and governance model to catalyze private sector investment in the state’s broadband network, strengthen the delivery of public services, promote the growth of private industry and improve digital access for its citizens.

ETICE adopted most of the technical assistance recommendations, including a public-private partnership model that led to its selection of a Brazilian consortium to help manage the network. This consortium brought new investment to the state’s broadband network and is now providing high-speed internet service to approximately four million people, or 90 percent of the state.  According to the consortium, the entire State of Ceará will have access to broadband internet in 2022.

USTDA’s Acting Director Thomas Hardy concluded, “An investment in American technology is an investment in quality infrastructure. USTDA will redouble its efforts to help our overseas partners invest in the kinds of solutions that will keep their economies resilient and on a positive growth trajectory.”