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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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Telecommunications regulation

More competitive telecommunications markets —i.e. those in which there is strong competition between agents— tend to have more and better services and a more efficient price structure, as well as greater ICT investment and higher rates of penetration. High telecommunications penetration rates contribute to social inclusion and economic growth. Telecommunications infrastructure has positive network externalities. To achieve these, a network must reach a certain critical mass —a point that is close to universal service (Röller and Waverman, 2001; Waverman, Meschi and Fuss, 2005). Thus, besides its social importance, the goal of universal access impacts economic growth. Developing a vibrant competitive market requires regulation, since the absence of a strong and effective regulatory agency can encourage practices that perpetuate oligopolistic or monopolistic structures, to the detriment of the sector’s static, as well as dynamic, efficiency. Thus, regulation is essential for the sector’s performance.

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