The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved EUR 35.7 million ($40 million) for the Log-in Georgia Project, which aims to connect people, enterprises, and institutions across rural Georgia to high-quality, affordable broadband internet, and promote the use of digital services, APA's Georgian bureau reports citing the World Bank.
Through this project, the Bank will support Georgia’s National Broadband Development Strategy for 2020-2025, which was announced by the Government in January 2020. The project will help connect up to 1,000 villages, including settlements in mountainous regions, to high-quality and affordable broadband service. Nearly 500,000 people, residing in locations currently unserved by high-quality broadband services stand to benefit from deployment of the broadband infrastructure envisaged by the Project.
“The World Bank supports Georgia’s goal of harnessing digital technologies to increase its economic competitiveness and thus provide better jobs and opportunities for all its people,” says Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “The Log-in Georgia Project will help Georgia overcome economic dualism, ensuring that people and enterprises in rural areas have the same access to opportunity as their urban counterparts. It will do so by investing in increased digital connectivity across Georgia’s regions and promoting digital services. This will help accelerate Georgia’s economic development, further cement its position as an innovation hub and investment attractive country, and ensure a resilient recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Log-in Georgia Project has three components: (i) increasing access to affordable broadband internet; (ii) promoting the use of broadband-enabled digital services; and (iii) project implementation support. By increasing the coverage of high-speed broadband internet services in rural settlements, the Project will help boost the use of digitally enabled services through training and capacity building programs across the country. As such, the Project will promote digital financial services and e-commerce, as well as online e-government services. The Project will also help promote remote e-learning and telemedicine.
“I would like to emphasize that the Log-in Georgia project we are implementing together with the World Bank will enable half a million people living in nearly a thousand settlements to enjoy high-quality internet and many different modern services such as e-health, e-education, e-government, e-commerce, as well as the ability work remotely from their homes,” says Natia Turnava, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. “The support of our international partners and donor organizations, including the World Bank, in the implementation of the ongoing reforms and programs in various sectors of the economy is crucial. The World Bank’s support to the Government of Georgia in the context of the crisis, and particularly in the measures taken to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, is especially outstanding.”
The project will contribute to improved affordability of broadband services through policy and regulatory reforms, enabling internet service providers in rural areas to provide competitive high-quality broadband internet services at lower cost. At the same time, special activities will take place in order to boost the use of the internet and digital services by women, ethnic and social minorities, and persons with disabilities in targeted settlements.
“We continue our successful cooperation with the World Bank in bringing shared prosperity to citizens and businesses across Georgia,” says Ivane Matchavariani, the Minister of Finance of Georgia. “The project approved today is aimed at narrowing the gap between urban and rural populations in terms of availability of economic and social opportunities, through improving countrywide digital infrastructure and extending access to the internet to all regions of Georgia.”
The project will be implemented by the non-entrepreneurial, non-commercial legal entity Open Net over a five-year period, with the support of the Communications Commission, and under the oversight of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.