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Information and Societies in Latin America and the Caribbean

Development of Technologies and Technologies for Development

image of Information and Societies in Latin America and the Caribbean

The countries of the region have substantially progressed with large-scale application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to varied aspects of economic and social development: the installation of digital infrastructure, modernization of public administration, digitalization of economic processes to enhance productivity as well as the quality of education and health care, and natural disaster management. Rapid evolution turned ICTs into a real solution for the development agenda. In the effort to use ICT efficiently for development, it is important to bear in mind that these technologies are not an end in thsemselves. Should ICTs be the essential element in the approach applied by information societies to development, or should the different aspects of development rather guide the way this technological revolution is harnessed?

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The ICT industries

Recognizing the extent to which the electronics industry contributed to the growth of some Asian economies, various Latin American and Caribbean governments sought to implement policies to encourage development of the industry. Although these initiatives attracted foreign direct investment (FDI), increased exports, created jobs and even stimulated research and development, the sector’s strength was not comparable to that of Asia. To understand this phenomenon and its implications, the present section analyses the ICT hardware industry, which includes the production of equipment and components for the transmission, processing and storage of information and data. It first describes the principal changes in the industry at the international level, then outlines the regional scenario, focusing on the countries within the region that play the largest roles in the industry —Mexico and Brazil. Having presented this background, it then analyses the main challenges related to growth.

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