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EU-LAC Cooperation: An ambitious and high-impact Digital Alliance

“The Digital Alliance between Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe: an opportunity to bridge the digital divide” is the title of an article recently published by the executive director of RedCLARA, Luis Eliécer Cadenas, in which he reflects on the progress and challenges in scientific cooperation between the two regions, the role of regional and national research and education networks and the opportunities of the BELLA II project.

The article is part of the book "Éducation, numérique, cohésion sociale et politiques publiques," a publication of L'Institut des Amériques (IDA), based on the results of its Annual Conference 2022, organized in partnership with the EU-LAC Foundation and the French Development Agency and focused on digital technology, policies, and education.

The author points out that bi-regional cooperation is long-standing. Programs such as “Euro-social”, “Euro-climate” and “BELLA (Building the Europe link to Latin America)”, implemented by RedCLARA and GEANT and financed by the European Union, have built "a relationship of trust that supports progress towards an ambitious and high-impact Digital Alliance".

The recently signed Digital Alliance “brings a ray of hope” to face global challenges: we are able to build a future based on a model that respects human beings and places them at the center of development, expanding their freedoms in a context of respect for the environment. A model in which solidarity coexists harmoniously with economic growth thanks to the efficient use of new digital-based production technologies.

This Alliance involves political dialogue, promotion of innovation and development, and investment in digital infrastructure. Regarding this last point, the author emphasizes the importance of the BELLA II Project, which provides continuity to the achievements of the first phase of the BELLA Program.

“Thanks to BELLA, RedCLARA and its national research and education networks in Ecuador (CEDIA), Brazil (RNP), and Chile (REUNA) together with their European counterparts, GEANT and the national research and education networks of Spain (RedIris), Germany (DFN), France (Renater), Italy (GARR) and Portugal (FCN) have deployed a powerful infrastructure connecting Europe with Latin America, laying the foundation for an unprecedented digital collaboration,” emphasizes Cadenas.

BELLA deployed the only submarine optical cable that directly connects both regions and “greatly increases our connectivity, impacting technical aspects such as latency or security in communication," explains the author. Furthermore, RedCLARA expanded and strengthened its connectivity to provide equitable access to the new international capacity, promoting the strengthening of connectivity within the countries.” The connection capacity among Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Panama increased by at least one order of magnitude.

BELLA II aims to reduce the digital divide and to strengthen and expand the LAC digital ecosystem, enabling relations and exchanges between companies, research centers, educational institutions, and national research and education networks, contributing to achieving the regional strategic goals. One of its specific objectives is to build and operate the digital infrastructure capable of guaranteeing adequate connectivity of Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras with the rest of BELLA's infrastructure and, particularly, with the submarine cable. Also, the project could extend further, depending on the feasibility, to Caribbean nations, Mexico, Belize, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay, explain Luis Cadenas.

The article also discusses the power of better connectivity to drive technological and social innovations and contribute to bridging the digital divide, which is leaving behind large sectors of the population that “do not have the basic conditions to take advantage of the digital transformation, not only to receive products and services but also to become suppliers of these".

Despite connectivity being fundamental, it is far from being the only factor, says the author, because it is essential to stregthen education and to pay attention to all transformations in the labor markets, for example. “A multi-level regional dialogue to discuss appropriate solutions, with the contribution and resources of all the actors involved, is essential," he says.

The BELLA II investment will contribute to bridging some of these inequities, following a dialogues strategy. RedCLARA and its NREN have the possibility and interest to play an articulating role. “We aim to contribute to a multisectoral dialogues approach, with all our existing connectivity capacity and, above all, with our articulation capacity," says Cadenas.

Through the national and regional dialogues, BELLA II aims to contribute to identifying key aspects for the next Digital Alliance political dialogues. "These dialogues plus the investment accelerator and the expansion of the BELLA infrastructure, constitute an important opportunity for the alliance," says RedCLARA's executive director.

Read the full article at: (Page 137)


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