A new study by Spanish telecom Telefónica has found that Colombia is among the world leaders in digital development relative to its GDP. Colombia outperforms expectations in all three of the index’s major categories — digital openness, digital confidence, and digital entrepreneurship — while also ranking as a regional leader overall in several key measurements.
In Telefónica’s “Index on Digital Life,” which looks at nearly 10 different factors of online and mobile behavior in 34 countries, Colombia ranks first overall among Latin American nations in digital openness. It also finishes second in digital business and finance while coming in third in internet freedom and digital literacy.
José María Álvarez-Pallete Lopez, executive chairman of Telefónica, believes that these factors are vital in 2016 for any nation that hopes to continue raising the prosperity of its people. To him, digital life is no longer separate from day-to-day reality for most people, and he cites a report claiming that a 10% increase in an economy’s digitization can potentially increase per-capita GDP by as much as 40%.
“To unleash the full potential of the digital economy, we need forward-looking, fairer public policies and a better cooperation between all stakeholders, public and private,” said José María Álvarez-Pallete Lopez, executive chairman of Telefónica. “Without this, we risk a digital divide, which could not only threaten economic progress, but also the lives of citizens globally.”
It isn’t all good news, however. The study does note that Colombia still has plenty of work to do on the digital front. It is only average for the region in terms of digital innovation, for example, and it trails many of its Latin American peers in other categories. Colombia lags behind Brazil, Argentina, and Chile on digital adoption rates and ranks below Chile, Costa Rica, and Uruguay on privacy and security. It also fares poorly when it comes to business application of ICT technology and software spending.
“Colombia is Latin America’s most outstanding over-performer in digital life relative to its GDP per capita,” states the study, but the authors also caution that, “this does not mean there is room for complacency.”
Based on its strong showing, and its room for growth, Colombia’s stakeholders would be wise to heed the message of Telefónica’s executive chairman. “We need institutions, governments, unions, enterprises, policy makers, and citizens to realize the full potential of the digital world for the benefit of society,” said Álvarez-Pallete.