The creation of a regional digital market will contribute to development with equality and environmental sustainability in the region, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said during the Fourth Latin American Telecommunications Congress currently being held in Cancun, Mexico. Its creation will enable increased connectivity for people and businesses, and facilitate the online exchange of goods and services.
“We must overcome taboos and open an honest discussion of the obstacles in the way of developing a digital economy in the region. Today it is urgent that we advance toward a political decision on the creation of a regional digital market,” said Mario Cimoli, Director of ECLAC’s Division of Production, Productivity and Management.
At the event attended by authorities, specialists and business representatives, Cimoli stressed the need to generate and take advantage of economies of scale and network to strengthen the digital ecosystem through the development of networks and digital platforms.
While linguistic and cultural diversity on other continents pose barriers to the formation of such markets, in Latin America and the Caribbean the obstacles to creating a single digital market are related to the lack of coordination in terms of standards and regulations, and to shortages in infrastructure and goods transportation, the expert said.
An ideal place for discussing these issues, Cimoli stressed, is the Working Group created in the framework of the Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean (eLAC2018) approved last year in Mexico City during the Fifth Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean. On that occasion, a single digital market for the region was proposed for the first time in the document The New Digital Revolution: From the Consumer Internet to the Industrial Internet.
To increase connectivity, the region’s countries should focus on coordinating actions in terms of network infrastructure and interconnectivity among Internet exchange points (IXP), and on drastically reducing the cost of data roaming because of its impact on the internationalization of the region’s companies, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Almost half of Latin America does not use the Internet, and most SMEs—the main source of job creation—make basic use of the network, the regional organization warns. To read an e-mail abroad with a photo attachment is 10 times more expensive when using data roaming (approximately USD 28 cents) compared to the local pre-paid service (around USD 3 cents). ECLAC says this exorbitant difference should be eliminated and believes that progress in this sense requires more dialogue to improve coordinated efforts among companies, governments and citizens.
In the same way, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are strategic tools for the follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 goals (SDGs), and will therefore form part of the analyses in the context of the new Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development established in May, the Commission indicates.
“ECLAC has supported and will continue to support the creation of forums for dialogue among governments, telecommunication operators and global and regional digital platforms to strengthen our digital ecosystem,” said Mario Cimoli, who will also present the organization’s proposals regarding the single market at the Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which ends on Thursday in Cancun.