Innovation and Economic Development

Innovation and Economic Development

The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies in Latin America

Edited by Mario Cimoli, André A. Hofman and Nanno Mulder

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are spreading fast across Latin America and the Caribbean. This trend has brought about important economic and social changes, which have largely gone unmeasured until recently. Here, analysts from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean along with other distinguished scholars in the field of ICT, growth and productivity provide theoretical and empirical insights to the debate on the role of ICT in economic development.


Alicia Bárcena

Subjects: development studies, development studies, economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, technology and ict


The rapid development and spread of information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring about major economic and social progress. ICT represents a breakthrough both as a general purpose technology and as a techno-economic paradigm characterized by falling prices of microelectronics, computers, software, telecom devices, control instruments, computer-aided biotechnology and new materials. This paradigm has the potential to foster structural change, productivity growth and economic and social development. However, the benefits of ICT for Latin America and the Caribbean may be small owing to the ‘digital gap’ and to the large internal divides that exist within the Latin American and Caribbean region as compared with advanced countries. This is illustrated by underdeveloped infrastructures and the resulting gaps in access to, and use of, ICT, in particular by those with low incomes and little education, those living in rural areas and small and micro-enterprises. Low skills levels and the lack of training and programmes adapted to local needs and conditions, poor legislation and inadequate regulation and use of multiple technical standards are also manifestations of the digital gap. These shortcomings may reduce the potential of ICT and dilute its contribution to development in the region. Following the Summit of Heads of State and Government from Latin America and the Caribbean and from the European Union in Rio de Janeiro in 1999, and based on its own experience in promoting convergence of regulation and policies among the European Union member states, the European Commission created the Alliance for the Information Society (@LIS) under...