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E-commerce

  Sad truth behind Argentina's digital revolution.


Friday 05 October 2001
Buenos Aires is now as ‘wired’ as any other capital city in world, following it’s mass introduction to the internet last year, with dot coms and e-businesses fast becoming the standard. Yet, not far from the neo-electronic skyscraper grandeur of downtown, in the rural outskirts of the city, are sprawling shanty towns where millions of people live in abject poverty without running water, electricity or medical services, making the internet a wildly irrelevant fantasy. Argentine telecommunications services are among the most expensive in the world, and the inner-city economy is dominated by multi-national corporation influence, making the once tired old adage – ‘the rich get richer whilst the poor get poorer’ as applicable and relevant as ever. Efforts to redress the balance have been evident, but cripplingly lacking in foresight; for instance, the government funded and delivered a set of computers to schools in the northern district of Jujuy, a commendable gesture in principle. However in practice, the schools didn’t have electricity, or in some cases black-boards and chalk, making the new computers useless. The wiring of the South is a priority for the G8 nations, with a specially formed ‘Digital Opportunity Task Force’, headed by 34 technology and media companies. The DOT plan to introduce technological measures at a gradual rate, unlike the random computer donating of the government, with telephones, electricity, education and community internet centres being focus points. However, the advert for the internet service provider Telefonica has a chilling truth about it when considering current life in Buenos Aires – “If you haven’t got internet, you don’t exist.’


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