Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean

Inter-American Development Bank

The paper Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) analyzes the digital situation of LAC countries and offers recommendations for developing the Applications Ecosystem for which the pre-existence of a digital infrastructure is indispensable.

According to this report published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), there is a close relationship between countries’ economic development and that of digital communications. So, a 10% increase in broadband penetration in LAC countries triggers a 3.19% jump in GDP, a 2.61% rise in productivity and the creation of 67,000 direct jobs.

The document provides a comparison between LAC countries and member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), looks at how digital policies have been rolled out in different arenas, and the impact that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have on modern life today.  In the financial sector, ICT development represents an opportunity for financial inclusion. In education, there has been an expansion of mass online open courses (MOOC) and educational mobile apps. And in the agricultural arena, it constitutes an opportunity for growth despite the sector’s low productivity, given that this sector accounts for nearly 19% of employment in the region and 9% of GDP.

As can be inferred from the paper, the situation in LAC countries is different to that of OECD member states. An example of this is the classification of the Index of the App Ecosystem: in a list of 58 countries, Chile comes top out of LAC countries (at 26), followed by Costa Rica, Uruguay, Panama, Brazil and Colombia that are ranked in positions 32, 35, 36, 37 and 38 respectively.

The paper concludes by making technical, regulator and public policy recommendations to achieve an ecosystem with new apps and digital services to create the right environment across different economic sectors and improve efficiency and access to the services on offer.