The Business Year

Close this search box.
Saúl Kattan Cohen

COLOMBIA - Telecoms & IT

Saúl Kattan Cohen

Presidential Advisor, Digital Transformation


Saúl Kattan Cohen is Advisor to the President of the Republic on issues of connectivity and digital transformation. He is also president of the board of directors of Ecopetrol and president of SK Consulting Partners Corp. He was president of Empresa de Telecomunicaciones Bogotá. He graduated from Universidad de los Andes, completed the executive management program at Instituto de Alta Dirección Empresarial (INALDE) in Bogotá, and has completed the advanced administration program from the Wharton Business School of the University from Pennsylvania.

"The main mandate is to connect Colombia. Colombia has 50% of connectivity, which means 50% of the population lacks connectivity."
The digital transformation mandate in Colombia is to increase connectivity from 50% to over 85% to help close the income divide and work on the implementation of the 5G network.
As Presidential Advisor for Digital Transformation, what is your mandate?

The main mandate is to connect Colombia. Colombia has 50% of connectivity, which means 50% of the population lacks connectivity. Of the 50% who are connected, the quality is not the best. This is important for a country such as Colombia in order to develop and close the income divide. My main focus is to increase connectivity from 50% to more than 85%.

What are the challenges of expanding digital infrastructure in both the public and private sectors?

We first have to structure the projects correctly. The public and private sectors have invested large sums of money to increase connectivity, though most of the projects have failed because of the lack of correct structuring. In the end, this is an opportunity for the two sectors to work together to structure a project correctly and for the government to give incentives to the private sector to work toward its goal. 5G is coming, as is the renovation of the 4G spectrum in 2023. We have a band of 6GHz, which is also important for connectivity. There are many things the government can do to help the private sector achieve its goals.

How do you view the digital transformation efforts, and how do they align more broadly with the new government’s wider ambitions?

We are leading this initiative directly from the president’s office because connectivity goes across the whole country; it is not only the purview of the Ministry of Information Technology and Connectivity (MinTIC). Today, connectivity is everything, and whilst it is led by MinTIC, the president believes we can place extra emphasis on this objective. Today, all sectors need connectivity. We have the support of the government and the president directly to connect Colombia. This is only the first step of many in digital transformation; after that, there is still much to do, such as financial inclusion through fintech, virtual education, and so on. We can develop many more initiatives through virtual connectivity, such as virtual health. There could be so many benefits for the country if we had connectivity or at least a plan of connectivity to start working on the other aspects of the digitalization of the economy.

How would you assess the role of improving the digital and connectivity capabilities of Colombia?

According to research, increasing connectivity in Colombia from 50 to 85% can bring a big boost to its GDP. Every investment, if invested and structured correctly, will pay off quickly just in terms of productivity and growth of the economy. To ensure that the implementation of the 5G network and renewal of the 4G spectrum are handled correctly, we have started working with the biggest telecommunication operators in the country to bring a plan together that works for everyone. Hopefully, we can launch a plan to connect Colombia that will be ready in the next three years. At this point, with 50% connectivity, we have all the opportunities on the table. There is a major effort from the government and the private sector to make this happen. This will open huge doors for investors in all sectors. There will be great opportunities in Colombia in the near future.

What are your priorities for 2023?

Hopefully we will soon have the plan to increase connectivity in Colombia to 85%. We want to have a more general plan with all the details and structuring. We are currently deciding between opening the 6GHz spectrum to the public or making it licensed, which will also have a big impact on connectivity. We will also work on the valuation of the spectrum of 5G and the renewals of 4G. We still have a great deal of work to do to make this happen in 2023.



You may also be interested in...


COLOMBIA - Industry

Maria Ximena Arbelaez


CEO, Bosanet


COLOMBIA - Industry

Natalia Jiménez


Regional Manager LATAM, Deel


COLOMBIA - Industry

Albert Douer


Executive Chairman, Ajover Darnel, Colombia

View All interviews



Become a sponsor