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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 economic impact of ICT

The debate on the extent to which ICT affect economic growth is ongoing. There is no consensus regarding positive and statistically significant effects from these technologies (Campos, 2007b). Today, most economists maintain that they do have positive effects— whether widespread or concentrated in the developed countries and dependent on the local environment. Others, however, are still sceptical about the existence of such effects or have doubts about the direction of causality, since countries with high per capita GDP growth are likely to invest heavily in ICT, and countries that invest heavily in ICT are likely to attain higher rates of growth. This section will examine measurements of the phenomenon in Latin America based on two different methodologies: growth accounting and the analysis of technological trajectories in the context of national systems of innovation.

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