By the end of next year, three million Brazilians who live in places rated
low on the Human Development Index (HDI) will have access to computers, internet,
and basic training courses in the informatics field.
The goal of the Brazilian
Program of Digital Inclusion is to install a thousand telecenters throughout
the country in 2005, each one capable of serving 2.5 thousand to 3 thousand
Each telecenter will be
provided six computers linked together in a network, with instructors on hand
to give informatics classes, in addition to various cultural and scientific
activities intended for the community.
There are currently at
least 300 telecenters in operation around the country, 108 of them in São
Paulo alone. The federal government's idea is for the telecenters to congregate
activities developed by various federal government Ministries and agencies.
will not only make access to the internet available. The idea is to have a
model that involves the community, so that it can choose the activities,"
explained Sérgio Amadeu, President of the National Institute of Information
Technology (ITI), tied to the Presidential Civilian Advisory Staff.
Amadeu believes that the
digital inclusion program will make sure that the government attains its goal
of installing 6,000 telecenters around the country by the end of 2007as
projected in the Pluriannual Investment Plan (PPA).
If this target is met,
by the end of this period 18 million low-income Brazilians will be able to
obtain technical training in the field of informatics and permanent access
to the Internet.
Amadeu recalls successful
examples of telecenters in communities that received this benefit. A group
of young people in Lajeado, state of São Paulo, for example, began
producing a monthly newspaper for the community.
And residents of the Santa
Lúcia neighborhood in the city of São Paulo organized a dance
contest among users of the telecenter, thus removing a large portion of young
people from the streets.
government will use information technology to enhance Brazilians' capacity
to improve their living conditions, to communicate with one another, and will
take advanced technology to poor areas so that it can serve as a tool to overcome
the conditions that maintain the population in poverty," Amadeu emphasized.
The Brazilian government
also hopes to be able to use free software programs, permitting the utilization
of computer programs without the need to pay royalties to the manufacturers.
"If we use free software,
we shall save millions of reais and dollars. Free software also makes it possible
for a group of trained young people to have access to program codes and thus
advance their training even more," he pointed out.
President Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva said recently that what Brazil needs are good partners so as
to produce more and better information. Speaking at the inauguration of a
Hewlett-Packard Technology Services Export Platform, Lula said Brazil has
the capability and creativity to achieve digital inclusion.
"We do not want to
be a developing nation forever. So we are moving ahead. We are going beyond
being an exporter of raw material. We want to export knowledge and cutting
edge technology," said the President.
The government's target
is to export US$ 2 billion annually in software by the year 2007. At the moment,
Brazil exports a mere US$ 100 million in software even though the country
is the world's seventh largest market for software.
2004, High Tech Year
At a luncheon sponsored
by the Association of Brokerage Firms, on August 2, in São Paulo, the
Brazil's Minister of Development, Luiz Fernando Furlan, affirmed that 2003
was the year of exports and that 2004 is the year of industrial policy and
He pointed out that the
keynotes of industrial policy are modernization, innovation, and technological
"There is nothing
wrong with our being world champion in soybeans, meat, sugar, orange juice,
and many other products, but we also have to invest in innovation, diversification,
and added value, and, most of all, we have to fight for space in the new economy,"
the Minister said.
Along these lines, he
recalled that one of the government's goals is to export US$ 2 billion in
informatics services and software programs by 2007. Compare this to India,
which exports US$ 8 billion in software a year. "This represents a tiny
share of world trade, but it can generate 60 thousand high-paying jobs in
"We are very poor
in communication and zero in marketing," Furlan declared, referring to
According to him, Brazil
has a likable image abroad, that of a relaxed population that enjoys the beach,
has good music, adores soccer, and drinks small cups of coffee several times
"To use an old expression,
it's a nifty image, but when you think about other countries, what comes to
mind?" he asked.
The Minister recalled
that Germany is not associated with beer drinkers, but with technology. By
the same token, Japan is not associated with geishas and sake, but with technology,
creativity, and efficiency. When Italy is referred to, fashion, design, and
creativity come to mind, he added.
"We need to discover
our vocation. We are a nation that possesses creativity, design, fashion,
and technology. Brazil is capable of being a leader in biotechnology. But
the world is unaware of what we do," he concluded.
Representatives and e-gov
coordinators from 16 Latin American countries learned recently about Brazil's
free software policy and various electronic government programs developed
in the country, such as the Br@sil information network, comprasnet (government
purchases), receitanet (federal taxes), prevnet (social security), electronic
balloting, and digital certification.
The participated in the
international seminar "Electronic Government Experiences in Brazil"
held in May in Brasília. The meeting marked the consolidation of a
forum for permanent dialogue with the countries of Latin America, to produce
integration projects based on the most effective joint electronic government
proposals for the region.
According to the executive
secretary of Electronic Government and secretary of Logistics and Information
Technology in the Ministry of Planning, Rogério Santanna, there is
no longer any justification for performing a series of multilateral procedures
manually, especially when they involve questions of frontiers, customshouses,
and foreign trade.
can expedite trade in the region, control processes, and reduce costs,"
he affirmed, pointing out that 14 percent of what it costs to import an item
is generated by the processing of papers and documents.
"We have the important
task of promoting the interoperation of electronic government services in
various countries in this integration effort. This is the reason for the Brazilian
government's concern with promoting adequate standards of interoperability
for these services to become interconnected in Brazil and Latin America,"
the secretary affirmed.
According to Santanna,
there is a strong movement to establish an electronic government project in
Brazil that really reaches the most excluded segments of the population, to
make the services universal and accessible from any place, at any time, and
under any circumstance.
The seminar, which was
sponsored by the Ministry of Planning, in partnership with the Inter-American
Development Cooperation Agency of the Organization of American States (IDCA/OAS),
is keyed to the disclosure of experiences, the stimulation of partnerships
with the private sector, and the training and qualification of human resources.
The following countries
participated in the seminar: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the
Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Gabriela Guerreiro works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.