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06 de March de 2018Digital economy in Latin America: Cullen International leads policy debate at Mobile World Congress

The policy and regulatory issues facing the digital economy in Latin America were the topic of a roundtable discussion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 28, 2018. The roundtable was co-organised by the CAF Development Bank of Latin America, the mobile operators’ association GSMA and Cullen International. The recommendations of a study prepared for CAF by Cullen International on Regional and Sub-regional approaches to the Digital Economy were presented and discussed.

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The policy and regulatory issues facing the digital economy in Latin America were the topic of a roundtable discussion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 28, 2018. The roundtable was co-organised by the CAF Development Bank of Latin America, the mobile operators’ association GSMA and Cullen International. The recommendations of a study prepared for CAF by Cullen International on Regional and Sub-regional approaches to the Digital Economy were presented and discussed.

Key stakeholders from Latin America, including government ministries, regulators, operators, international organisations, and sector associations participated in the debate. There was agreement that the region would greatly benefit from more harmonised and coordinated strategies and actions, and concrete steps are needed to move forward.

The CAF-Cullen study

The aim of the study is to describe and compare the status and key aspects of the digital economy in the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions, and to also look specifically at the Central America sub-region. While outlining the rationale and objectives of ICT-related strategies in the three regions/sub-regions, the study identifies existing gaps, and possible approaches and actions towards a more effective and integrated regional digital economy.

During the presentation of the study, the initial focus was on the lessons that can be learned from Asia-Pacific region, including the strategies and policies aimed at fostering high-speed broadband connectivity. The digital economy in the Asia-Pacific region is also driven by a thriving e-commerce sector. The region, and specifically China, is a leader in e-commerce. The Asia-Pacific region held a market share in terms of worldwide e-commerce revenues exceeding 45% in 2015, according to the E-commerce Foundation. Universal connectivity and policies to generate consumer trust, including privacy and cybersecurity, are among the most important boosters of e-commerce.

By comparison, Latin America represented only 2% of worldwide e-commerce revenues in 2015. Nevertheless, e-commerce has been growing dramatically in recent years, due to increased internet connectivity and improved economic conditions across the region.

The study outlines steps needed to develop a digital agenda for Latin America, including to:

  • have high-level support;
  • allow a flexible implementation of the roadmap while setting clear milestones;
  • gather coordination efforts around independent regional organisations;
  • set technical assistance with public and private support; and
  • set monitoring mechanisms.

 

What is needed to bridge the current regional and sub-regional gaps in the digital economy in Latin America? (CAF Development Bank and Cullen International)

Digital Economy

Roundtable debate

During the debate, the participants agreed that the Latin America region should work to increase trust in the digital economy by:

  • users of digital services, guaranteeing citizens’ basic rights through a stable regulatory and policy framework, with a focus on horizontal issues such as privacy and data protection, and e-payments;
  • industry stakeholders to ensure an appropriate investment climate in the region; and
  • both users and industry through cybersecurity strategies at regional level and promoting international cooperation in cybersecurity and defence.

There was also general agreement that the countries in the Latin America region share common objectives, the region is facing a turning point and needs to move with urgency from diagnosis to action. The cost of having unconnected citizens is steadily increasing and bridging the digital divide should be the main priority for the region.

Participants agreed the debate was an important first step and that it should be continued in:

Participants also agreed that work to develop a digital agenda for Latin America should have high level support and coordinate efforts from different organisations and technical assistance groups.

 

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