By Gustavo Pereyra (@heroedelmate)Context
At the turn of the millennium Argentina faced one of the worst crises in its history: roughly 25% of its population was unemployed, and the economy had been in recession for most of the late share of the 90’s .
Call it funky timing, but it was only a couple of months before the president had to resign that the government passed legislation that encouraged –among other major reforms– the strategic inclusion of ICTs in the various administrative bodies of government . Later on, and not without undergoing heavy circumstances some of which remain unsolved today, the country crawled out of the hole it had fallen in and entered a period of economic bonanza, so it became a much fertile ground for ICT initiatives. Those conditions led by 2005 to the National eGovernment Plan (“Plan Nacional de Gobierno Electrónico”) , which empowered the Undersecretary of Public Service as the main federal government organ to lead ICT initiatives.It was in 2009 that the current status was reached, when the Undersecretary of Public Service launched the program “Agenda Digital Argentina”  which states the basis and creates specific institutions with open participation to address Digital Development.
The economic recovery was especially beneficial for rural regions, and so it was that medium sized cities located in these became pioneers in local eGovernment projects. Some of these projects find the local government partnering up with multinational corporations, such as the city of Rafaela with Intel , or Marcos Paz with Motorola . Marcos Paz even made it to the top 25 in the Motorola Ranking of Digital Cities for Latin America, standing out because of its eHealth program .
Since then, many OLPC-ish initiatives followed, such as City of Buenos Aires’ “Plan S@rmiento” , San Luis Province’s “Todos los chicos en red” . Let’s take a look at the more ambitious -and perhaps the most successful- “Conectar Igualdad”.
This Federal Government’s program was launched in 2010, and it aimed at reducing the digital divide by delivering netbooks to every high school student and teacher in the country, training teachers to include the new tools in the class workflow, and developing suppliers and infrastructure in schools in order to support the project .
As of 2014, it has delivered 3,812,054 netbooks , and it has received praise (mainly because of success in the netbooks and infrastructure deployment) and criticism (most notably because teachers were not properly trained and struggle in the introduction of the new tools to the teaching process) .
Since NGO impulsed projects are much harder to spot, with some notable exceptions such as “Proyecto Nahual” (ICT job training for youth at risk) , and private sector involvement is limited to partnerships with government spheres, it is clear that the Argentina’s ICT initiative ecosystem leans heavily to the State-led side.The question about if it would be better to encourage a more balanced context remains open.
(Sorry for the Spanish references!)
2. http://www.jgm.gov.ar/archivos/pme/Decret_1032001.pdf (Spanish only)
3. http://www.jgm.gov.ar/archivos/pme/pnge_decreto_378_2005.pdf (Spanish only)
4. http://www.agendadigital.gob.ar/ (Spanish only)
5. http://rafaela.gov.ar/nuevo/Noticias-amp.aspx?s=2&index=9300&i=98&v=lista(Spanish only)
6. http://www.iprofesional.com/notas/74306-Cmo-es-la-primera-ciudad-digital-de-la-Argentina(Spanish only)
7. http://newsroom.motorolasolutions.com/imagelibrary/downloadmedia.ashx?MediaDetailsID=1652&SizeId=-1 (Spanish only)
8. http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/sarmientoba (Spanish only)
9. http://www.chicos.edu.ar/ChicosEnRedasp/paginas/pagina.asp?PaginaCRID=1 (Spanish only)
10. http://www.conectarigualdad.gob.ar/seccion/sobre-programa-6 (Spanish only)
11. http://www.conectarigualdad.gob.ar/ (Spanish only)
12. http://repositorio.educacion.gov.ar:8080/dspace/bitstream/item/96909/Investigacion%20PCI.pdf?sequence=1 (Spanish only)
13. http://www.nahual.com.ar/ (Spanish only)