Latin America: from access to ICT appropriation

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The strategic use of ICT could be a means to achieve development

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have become essential tools for world's citizens life, and it has even been considered that the use of ICT is a means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations, 80% of the world's inhabitants have access to the Internet, which reflects that access is being achieved. However, it is important to review the case of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latin America ICT access

According to ECLAC, Latin America and the Caribbean have an access of 43.4%. Although progress has been made in this area, the percentage shows that it is below the world average. For this reason, most public policies in the world have focused on seeking that all its population have access to ICT to facilitate their lives.

However, there is a greater challenge and it is to promote the strategic use of ICTs to improve quality of life, since many people who have access to these tools usually do so for leisure activities and access to social networks. The foregoing displays that there is no strategic use to improve their living conditions. For this reason, it is essential that States seek to overcome the digital access gap and work for citizens to take ownership of ICT to train, to do electronic commerce, to create content, and to start new businesses.

The International Telecommunications Unit (ITU) measures the States with the ICT Development Index through indicators of access, use, and appropriation of ICT. The first Latin American country that appears in the ranking is Uruguay in the position 47, Argentina ranked as 55, and Chile is in the 56th place. Thus, the ranking shows that there are important challenges for ICT in Latin-American to be an effective means to achieve development.

Colombian case

In the case of Colombia, the country is ranked in 83th position. Although access to the internet has been democratized with 64% - according to the latest survey conducted by the Ministry of Technology of Information and Communications-, there are challenges in the proper use and appropriation of ICT for everyday activities. At present, there are significant differences and gaps in the use of the following aspects: by age -ICT differences depending on population age- and by gender -women or men usage. For example, women appropriate ICTs less than men in ethnic groups such as indigenous, afro-descendants, raizales, and palenqueros-.  

In this sense, it is important to highlight that, even though access is the first gap that must be closed, only through the appropriation of ICTs will perform a real digital transformation be achieved in favor of the development of the countries.

LatinAmerican Post | Tatiana Restrepo

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza