Latin America’s Digital Transformation: Accelerating Momentum

Fueled by an acceleration towards digitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic, Latin America saw a seismic shift to digitally-driven services and online commerce. In less than two years, the region saw e-commerce increased by 36.7 percent relative to its pre-pandemic levels, and according to Statista, 13 million people across Latin America made an online transaction for the first time in 2020. In a region where digital transactions have historically been hindered by a largely unbanked population and gaps in connectivity, this signals a remarkable change in behavior and opportunity for the future.

As countries and communities continue to recover from the COVID-19, Latin America’s digital transition offers promising opportunities to create more prosperous, inclusive, and diverse economies. However ongoing challenges with infrastructure and other policies lagging behind much of the developing world threaten Latin America’s ability to realize a fully digital economy. To promote further digitization and seize on economic opportunities, Latin American governments will need to partner with the private sector to improve online privacy and cybersecurity; dramatically expand online commerce; and build a workforce suited for the digital economy.

That’s why this week, ITI and the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program launched Going Digital, an event series focused on empowering leaders with the strategies regional governments could adopt to continue this adoption of technology well into the future. The five-part series will address financial technologies, education, digital trade, technology workforce challenges and opportunities, and privacy and cybersecurity.

In conjunction with the Going Digital series, ITI today released a study by Tanque de Análisis y Creatividad de las TIC (TicTac), a Colombian tech policy think tank, that takes a deep look at the digital shifts Latin American countries made during the COVID-19 pandemic. It assesses the current digital strategies that governments of the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Colombia have implemented to capitalize on these fundamental changes. The report identifies policies before and after the crisis and analyzes their impacts to identify best practices in the region. These lessons learned provide insight for regional governments to articulate policies that incentivizes further digitization.

The technological advances and the digitalization of the economy more broadly, empower communities and companies of all sizes and across sectors – from commerce, education, and health care to energy and transportation – to leverage frontier innovations towards competition and success in the global marketplace. To be successful, ITI believes governments must be ready to craft and enact the right kinds of strategies that will allow technology investment, incorporation, and adoption to flourish.

We hope these conversations can support the region’s governments as they seize the opportunity to digital transformation. We look forward to being a partner with them in this important effort and encourage stakeholders across the region to join the Going Digital series to engage in this timely conversation.

Learn more about the Going Digital series here. Registration is required. A full list of events is below: