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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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Foreword

This book complements and builds on the other studies published since 2002 by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on the challenges and opportunities that come with the emergence of Information Societies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Information and communications technology (ICT) issues have played an increasingly important role in the policy agendas of the countries of the region. In its preceding institutional publication on the topic (ECLAC, 2003a), ECLAC posed the following questions: What type of information society do we wish to create? What are the basic characteristics and specific features of the transition to the information society in the region? What policy measures might be adopted to further the process? While these questions remain relevant, another, even more important one, has emerged: After nearly a decade of work in the area, has the relationship between ICT and development had noticeable positive repercussions? Data are now available to assess how far the region’s countries have advanced towards the objective of becoming full-fledged members of the information society. ECLAC has conducted such assessments, exploring the priorities, interests and measures, as reflected in public policies, designed to achieve that objective. In doing so, it has focused particular attention on policies designed to reduce the digital divide, in terms of both the global technological frontier and the gaps between different social groups within the countries. In an environment in which accelerating technological change leads to a constant redefinition of objectives and goals, it becomes particularly important to close these gaps.

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