Colombia will assume the presidency of the Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean

The event is attended by delegations from 26 countries and agreements on the region’s technological agenda will be renewed. WEEK spoke with the president of the previous period.On April 18, 19 and 20, the Sixth Ministerial Conference on the Information Society of Latin America and the Caribbean will take place in Cartagena, an event organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). During the event, the agreements established in the ‘Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean’ (eLAC2018) will be renewed and Colombia will assume the presidency of this mechanism.

ELAC is a long-term action plan supported by ECLAC, created 15 years ago and which seeks to promote Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as an instrument for economic development and social inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean , promoting a digital ecosystem that promotes equity and innovation.

One of the main challenges with this plan is to achieve that the region advances towards a regional digital market, that is, that there is a free movement of goods, digital services and capital linked to the digital industry. According to ECLAC, to achieve this, it is necessary for countries to improve infrastructure, human capital and the business environment.

It is also intended that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean increase the number of online buyers, since in this way the electronic commerce of the region would be enhanced. According to eLAC figures, it is estimated that in 8 years, digitalization in the region has contributed 4.3% to GDP.

During the Sixth Conference, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be taken into account, highlighting the moment of opportunity that the region has and the possibilities that Information and Communications Technologies have to accelerate human progress, overcome the digital divide and develop knowledge societies.

WEEK spoke with Yolanda Martínez, coordinator of digital strategy of the Mexican government, about the management she achieved in her country and the challenges that are coming for the coming years.

WEEK: What results did Mexico have in its administration?

Yolanda Martí nez: It is important to clarify that it was not a single work of Mexico, if not a whole, several countries have worked and therefore it is an achievement of the region. According to the digital agenda of the frame of reference seeks that all people take advantage of Internet access, that there is quality coverage and that people, regardless of sex or economic level, achieve equity where they have greater access to ventures and opportunities.

The coverage of internet users for 2017 closed above 50%, but work must continue to strengthen access to technologies at a fair price, for the population to increase the use of the internet to interact with the government and achieve inclusion digital.

In addition, according to the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, governments are committed to an innovative process in which they must prioritize digital transformation and facilitate access to information.

WEEK: Why choose Colombia as the new eLAC administration?

YM : The administration is rotating, every three years it is changed according to the approval and a series of processes, which is Colombia speaks very well of the commitment of digital transformation that the country has, besides that it can be a great support. The work in eLAC is open and collaborative, it is about creating an ecosystem that improves opportunities, the challenge for Colombia is to maintain and implement those objectives during the next three years.

WEEK: What challenges does Latin America and the Caribbean have to make use of ICT?

YM : Teamwork mechanisms must continue to be strengthened, there are still many people without an internet connection and it is necessary to close the inequality gaps in terms of technology.

WEEK: How can you have a regional digital market?

YM : In Latin America and the Caribbean you need a digital revolution, a willingness to change, make use of the teachings and learnings to transform digital entrepreneurship. It is necessary to find mechanisms that provide greater opportunities for development, it is also important that countries recognize a digital policy as a state policy and implement it for the benefit of the population.

WEEK: What are the main challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean for the digital economy?

YM : The first one is to have a digital market, a teamwork must be done with entities such as Mercosur and ALADI (Latin American Integration Association), to have frames of reference. It is important to implement the electronic signature, the harmonization of the parts of service delivery so that a larger community can benefit from digital services.

Electronic financial services are also needed, so that anyone from any region can access electronic commerce. To have a growth potential, we must have more innovative services, entrepreneurship, innovative conditions, such as the Internet of Things and public policies that commit to continue promoting these initiatives.

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