updated 8/25/2004 9:37:07 AM ET 2004-08-25T13:37:07

Jamaica's government on Tuesday announced a $5 million program to provide free Internet access in poor communities across the island.

The "e-Jamaica" initiative will establish 60 Internet centers across the country by 2010, mostly in post offices, said Commerce and Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell.

The effort is directed at communities "that continue to operate on the outskirts of the communications revolution," Paulwell said.

Less than 5 percent of Jamaica's 2.6 million people use the Internet, partly because user fees are expensive compared to other countries. Broadband Internet access starts at $93 per month in Jamaica, compared to $12 in some Asian countries.

Eventually, people will be able to use the centers to conduct online transactions like paying traffic fines and making national insurance payments, Paulwell said.

The project, which will be funded by the government and the Inter-American Development Bank, also includes Internet training scholarships for 900 people.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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