The year 2044 is almost impossible to wrap one’s mind around. More than a quarter-century in the future, it will doubtless feature a host of technologies and global issues that we can’t even begin to fathom at the present moment. In the Dominican Republic, however, government and industry leaders have their eye on this far-off date. The Visión Republica Dominicana 2044 (RD 2044) project is working to boost the Dominican Republic’s infrastructure by its bicentennial, positioning the nation to be a regional and global leader as it enters its third century of independence.
Inspired by former president Leonel Fernández, RD2044 is the result of a planning process that started in the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode) in 2008. Ambitious in scope, RD2044 is a blueprint for a wide-ranging group of projects concerning communication and transportation, human development, and tourism infrastructure in all 32 provinces. The plan includes both municipal and local projects and is the result of collaboration with the elected officials and residents of the affected areas. Funglode has emphasized community collaboration, noting that they have made a point of speaking to young Dominicans and various community associations with a stake in the future in order to ensure that projects are appropriately designed to meet community needs. By combining community input with engineering and political expertise, Funglode believes it has crafted a plan that solves the Dominican Republic’s most pressing issues and puts a new face on the country as it moves into the future. The project coexists with the Strategic Plan of Santiago (PES 2020), which was launched in 2010 and has similar goals but focuses specifically on Santiago, the country’s second-largest city.
To date, there are more that 1,200 infrastructure projects planned as part of RD2044. Funglode is promoting about half of them with mockups and photos demonstrating what they will add to their respective communities. A good number of these projects involve transportation upgrades in the form of new roads and bridges, as well as safety measures against the regular floods and natural disasters that threaten the island. The Dominican Republic’s recent rapid development resulted in tremendous gains, but the uneven nature of its growth means there are still severe infrastructure gaps within provinces. Rural areas in particular have been more significantly affected by natural disasters and a lack of access to adequate facilities. However, the RD plan includes detailed analyses of all 32 of the Dominican Republic’s provinces.
In Santiago, for example, RD2044’s report says the biggest infrastructure needs are the additional construction of roads and buildings to strengthen the industrial and tourism sectors. RD2044 notes that this must also come with urban planning to increase efficiency for the province’s nearly one million inhabitants. Some specific projects to meet these goals include an expansion of the potable water system, improvements to a major road to improve tourist access to the surrounding provinces, and a new agro-industrial park. In the rural province of Elías Piña, the least populated in the country, RD2044 places an emphasis on increasing access to basic services, establishing an ecotourism industry, and boosting bilateral commerce with Haiti. Some key projects here include remodeling the Rosa Duarte Hospital, building governmental offices in the province, and building and maintaining potable water systems in every town in the province.
Fernández gave a presentation debuting RD2044 in New York City in October 2016. Chosen because of the high concentration of Dominican expats located there—some 800,000, meaning New York City’s Dominican population is second only to Santo Domingo’s—the presentation was a chance for Fernandez to bring RD2044 to the world stage. The positive national and international response to the presentation speaks to the global community’s understanding of the Dominican Republic’s potential and willingness to work to make it come to fruition.