Bolivia’s National Census of Population and Housing 2012 will be held on November 21. The previous national census took place more than a decade ago, in December 2001.
Led by the National Institute of Statistics (INE in Spanish), the national 2012 census aims [es] to provide “updated information on demographic, social, economic and housing conditions in the country, allowing to adjust, define and evaluate plans, programmes, public policies and strategies for sustainable human, economic and social development at the national, departmental and municipal levels”.
Targeting primarily demographic and housing issues, the census questionnaire [es] has sparked a debate on social media platforms regarding question 17: “Does this household have Internet service?”
Researchers, analysts, and activists expected more inquiry and information coming out of the 2012 census. Nevertheless, the sole question regarding Internet access inquires only about the service, disregarding type of connection, quality, uses, digital divide, and so on, missing an opportunity to collect in-depth information on this matter.
It is estimated [es] that about 30% of the population and 9% of households have Internet access in Bolivia. The number is not high; however, the quality shows even a worse scenario: only 0.7 of every 100 have broadband connections.
Mario Durán, a blogger and activist based in El Alto, argues on his blog [es] that question 17 should be answered “no” if the access to the Internet is via mobile broadband stick or mobile phone.
After sharing his position on social media platforms, a number of replies came in favor and against his argument.
Eliana Quiroz, a well-known digital activist, commented on an open discussion [es] at the campaigning Facebook page “Más ancho de banda para Bolivia” (More Broadband for Bolivia):
Añadir más preguntas es caro y como no consideran que la conexión a Internet sea estratégica, pues no incluyeron nada. La pregunta está como está y asi nomás hay que responderla. Para el siguiente censo espero que haya una bateria de preguntas acerca de Internet. Habra que hacer lobby y activismo cuando corresponda.
Adding more questions is expensive and (the government) does not consider the Internet to be strategic, so it did not include anything else. The question is as it is and so we just need to answer it. For the next census I hope there is a set of questions about the Internet. Lobbying and advocacy must be done at the right time.
In spite of the gaps in the census questions, Grover Yapura (@GroverYapura) [es] states via his Twitter account:
@GroverYapura: #Censo2012, solo hay una opcion el 21: Ser contado y ayudar a contar #Bolivia
@GroverYapura: #Censo2012 There is only one option on the 21st: Being counted and help to count #Bolivia
Mainstream and citizen media are actively reporting on Bolivia’s National Census via the hashtags #Censo2012 [es] and #CensoBo [es].
I believe Bolivia and China are co-operating to build a satellite for this country so more people can get Internet in the future.