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David Luna Sánchez

COLOMBIA - Telecoms & IT

Putting the ICT in post- Conflict

Minister, ICT

Bio

David Luna Sánchez is a lawyer from the Universidad del Rosario. He is a specialist in administrative law and holds a master’s in government and public policies from the Universidad del Externado and Columbia University. He has been president of the environmental organization Capí­tulo Colombia. He is a professor at various universities and is the author of the book, Starting Point: Nine Proposals for the Governance of Bogotá.

How do you envision the ICT sector’s role in the peace process and post-conflict era? ICT has a fundamental and transversal role in building a country with a stable and […]

How do you envision the ICT sector’s role in the peace process and post-conflict era?

ICT has a fundamental and transversal role in building a country with a stable and lasting peace, as a key player in the different processes of integration, social inclusion, and citizen participation. That is why we are strengthening our ICT policy, Plan Vive Digital para la Gente, for the post-conflict era in three aspects: enhancing our deployment of communications infrastructure in remote areas, encouraging digital literacy, and empowering digital entrepreneurship. More than five decades of armed conflict in Colombia have contributed to deepening inequality in the country. That is why the Ministry of ICT is helping close the gap between the city and the countryside through the National Rural Connectivity Plan, which will deliver high-speed internet to municipal centers and offer community access solutions to populated centers of more than 100 inhabitants. It is through ICT that areas affected by the conflict in aspects such as health, education, and agriculture can be reached immediately. We are aware that peace building requires the participation of all of society without making distinctions, and the Ministry of ICT will play an active role in strengthening the community, institutions, and region.

How would you characterize the current progress of Colombia’s digital transformation?

Colombia has taken a step forward in terms of ICT in the last six years thanks to the implementation of the ICT policy Plan Vive Digital para la Gente. The country’s progress has been recognized internationally. According to the Digital Evolution Index of Tufts University, Colombia was one of the top-10 countries in the world that advanced the most toward a digital economy during the 2008-2013 period. Similarly, according to the latest report of the Digitization Index of Professor Raúl Katz of Columbia University (US), in 2015 Colombia went from being a country of “transitional digitization“ to one of “advanced digitization,“ a category shared by most OECD countries. Since its implementation, the ICT policy has promoted the development of the country’s digital ecosystem in four components: ICT infrastructure, ICT services, applications and digital content, and user skills. Likewise, the Plan Vive Digital para la Gente has set four main objectives: consolidate the ICT sector as a generator of employment, develop a digital government that harnesses ICT for greater efficiency and transparency, contribute with ICT to the transformation of education, and transform the quality of life in the cities and territories with the development of regional digital ecosystems, especially access to the internet. Colombia now has 15.3 million internet connections—seven times more than in 2010. Furthermore, 639 towns and cities now have access to fourth generation (4G) mobile services.

How would you characterize Colombia’s regional competitiveness regarding attracting ICT investments?

Colombia is one of the countries with the greatest economic stability. The IT industry accounted for 1.19% of the country’s GDP in 2015, according to indicators from the IT Observatory, and has been positioning itself nationally and internationally because it provides technological solutions that improve the competitiveness of other sectors of the economy. The consolidation of IT in Colombia has allowed foreign companies with extensive experience in consulting services, technology solutions, and R&D development to focus their attention on our country. They are attracted by the quality of digital talent, local demand, and opportunity to export their products and services to other markets in the region. This is the case of Globant (Argentina), Indra (Spain), Synapsis (Chile), Capgemini (France), and Stefanini (Brazil). It is evident that companies in the region have found similar or better conditions in Colombia for their businesses than those in other Latin American countries. CAGR in IT was 37% from 2012 to 2016, closing the gap with respect to the region’s strongest economies such as Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Argentina.

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