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Prince Amir Al Saud

Role of Technology in Latin America’s Booming Economy - Futurist View 2030

Role of Technology in Latin America’s Booming Economy - Futurist View 2030

 

Introduction

Where do Latin American nations stand in terms of economy and technology? Perhaps, except for Brazil, the economic conditions in these countries have been deplorable, so to speak. In fact, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Latin America has fallen significantly behind high-income nations globally.

The average growth performance is probably one of the primary reasons why poverty alleviation and living standards in these countries are far below their counterparts.

There is a large discrepancy in terms of technology development between the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Latin America. Technology is the heart and soul of development.

Success of numerous nations around the globe can be accredited to the pace of technological progress.

Technology enhances health programs and reduces production costs. It strengthens collaboration among governments and makes the lives of people easier.

Technology or lack of it has brought about the large disparity between countries of Latin America and other developed nations.

Ironically, Latin America has advanced at a snail’s pace at the start of the sudden surge of technology. It was only recently that some countries have begun to experience technological progression. It means that they are trying to catch with the improvement of political conditions in the region.

Better Political Climate

The overall political situation in Latin America is improving gradually. Most of these countries have experienced a lot of instability due to internal strife and armed conflicts as well as external troubles. Latin American political leaders (mostly dictators) are focusing their efforts on all aspects of the political field. To their credit, the region has achieved economic growth despite leadership failures and economic debacles.

During the past few years, countries in the Caribbean and Latin American have experienced robust economic development and implemented social programs that have cut down poverty levels and inequity.

In the last two decades, destitution has dropped from 49 to 31 percent in Latin America. 

Political progress has been evident with the resumption of free elections, rise of civil society and more responsive governments.

Only terrorism and violent intercontinental drug trade continue to hamper progress and destabilize the democratic institutions. Some governments are not capable of raising enough domestic revenues to subsidize services.

Moreover, climate change creates risks within the region. Certain administrations even go to the point of restricting political rights.

GDP and Major Industries What are the prospects of investing in top Latin American countries?

Ecuador

Ecuador’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is roughly 6.5 percent. 2012 budget was $26 billion with a deficit of $4.2 billion and $8.4 billion financing gap. This budget is based on the average price per barrel of crude oil which is $79.80. Economy depends on petroleum for the domestic market. Primary export products include petroleum, bananas, shrimps, flowers and agricultural commodities.

Venezuela

Venezuela’s GDP was estimated at $382.84 billion in 2012. Principal industries come from manufacturing and products like aluminum, cement and steel. Agriculture accounts only for three percent of exports but it ships out rice, corn, coffee, pork, beef, and tropical fruits. Other significant industries of Venezuela are automobiles and electronics.

Brazil

Brazil is the biggest economy of Latin America which is roughly $2.45 trillion by the end of 2011. It is also one of the fastest-growing economies globally. It is the second largest industrial sector in America and its industries include steel, petrochemicals, automobiles, computers, aircraft, and consumer items.

Mexico

Mexico is the second biggest economy in Latin America with a GDP of $1.761 trillion which is larger than Canada ($1.531 trillion). The most significant segments are wholesale and retail. Mexico is the 16th biggest exporter worldwide with 82 percent of its exports going to the United States and Canada.

Argentina 

The GDP of Argentina in 2012 was $474.90 billion which makes up 0.77 percent of world economy. Major industries are agriculture, food processing, natural resources, and services. Chile – Chile’s GDP in 20102 was $268 billion. Principal industries consist of agriculture, forestry, wine, salmon, mining, tourism, and services.

Colombia

Colombia’s GDP is estimated at $366. It is a major exporter of coffee, coal and oil.

Information Technology - Looking Forward to 2030

Last year, technology experts and civil society members held a conference in Montevideo, Uruguay to talk about the future of IT and society for Latin American nations. The participants sorted out issues like copyright, privacy and shared business models. The theory of information society points out the need for the production, distribution and management of information. This information performs a critical part in economic, social and cultural activities. Likewise, the guideline is that information technology contributes to the advancement of societies and creation of vibrant economies. This meet was aimed to look at the future at least for the next 15 to 20 years.

At present, Latin American governments and private sector stakeholders look at possible key areas of technology that will shape the region’s economic development until 2030. Information technology has entered the period of sizeable data volume. Power of processing and data storage has become very important. Various networks and the cloud provide worldwide access as well as all-encompassing services. Social media and cyber security have both turned out as new and extensive markets. This growth and diffusion present meaningful challenges for societies and governments. They will have to obtain the benefits of novel information technology and manage risks caused by these technologies. IT-based solutions are meant to maximize economic profitability and citizens’ quality of life. At the same time, these need to reduce utilization of resources and ecological destruction. Latin American nations need to build up the capability to employ information and communication technologies. People’s technology proficiency should work side by side with physical infrastructures, regulatory policies and institutions to generate a substantial impact on economic development.

Economic progress in Latin America has become tougher despite the economic ambiguities throughout the world. Most of these countries realize that production of commodities is not enough. The scale is too big so everyone has to make use of all available opportunities.

More investments should be poured in areas like information technology. For instance, a Mexican telecommunications firm has expressed its intention to invest an estimated $50 billion within the next five years for broadband services.

Technology is Booming Technology boom is regarded as an ongoing phenomenon globally. In fact, economic projections are usually based on the results of technology development. The truth is the global tech surge has awakened capitalists and local businessmen in Latin America.

Since 2012, there has been a lot of movement in Latin America. The entire region witnessed an unparalleled growth of its home-grown technology economy. In fact, Latin America is slowly and silently developing a philosophy of technology entrepreneurship which is not being practiced in other up-and-coming economies. This is expected to go on until 2030.

As a matter of fact, from Chile to Mexico, entrepreneurs and potential investors from countries like the United States, North America and Europe have started to embrace this approach. The Since then, the following developments have taken place:

• The Kauffman Foundation (Start-up organization based in the United States) has set up 13 chapters in Mexico.

• In Chile, the government-supported program (Start-up Chile) was formulated to entice start-up technology firms to Chile. This drew 37 nations and 1,500 applicants.

• 500 Startups, the venture capital company of Dave McClure, has signified his intention to infuse more investments in the region.

• Private corporations from four Latin American countries (Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico) sent many representatives to the annual technology conference for start-up companies in San Francisco.

• During the last few months, many technology companies in Latin America have obtained competitors to open up their market saturation efforts. This is a trend in the United States but it is far from the custom in Latin America. It is an indication that the market has matured considerably and this will surely go on in the coming years. The enterprises involved were the result of domestic accelerator programs and investment firms.

• Alta Ventures, a venture capital fund in Monterrey has already closed a venture fund worth $70 million. This is a combine US and Mexican endeavor. Said fund will be invested in start-up companies from Mexico. Of course, most nations in the region like Mexico are still coping with a lot of problems like criminality (narcotics) as well as peace and order.

Argentina has yet to resolve its economic problems. Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador are still adding fuel to anti-US and anti-capitalist efforts all over the continent. Meanwhile, Brazil still needs massive support infrastructure for small-scale enterprises since the existing bureaucracy remain suffocating for foreign entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, the market situation remains potent and continues to improve which insinuates that there is a productive ground for technology.

Citizens of these countries are adept in social media. The e-commerce sales last year were estimated at $69 billion last year. If the trend continues, it is expected that this figure will multiply until 2030.

Nanotechnology Development

The growth of nanotechnology in Latin America has gone faster in recent years. In fact, this is expected until 2030. Nanotechnology has been stimulated by three factors.

These are science, technology as well as policies associated with innovation in many Latin American nations within the last 10 years Government legislation and financing aspects have been complemented by a conventional rhetoric. This emphasizes the promise of nanotechnology to boost competitiveness and growth as well as provide the region with more efficient and ground-breaking products. However, there are three attributes of Nanotechnology in the region that may impede its contribution to fair development within Latin America.

One is the clear inclination towards an “intra-regional” variance in competency formulation. This is the result of imbalanced historical development of technology and science in these nations and extensive discrepancies in logistics dedicated to nanotechnology. Two is the power of global indicators with reference to needs with regards to the orientation of nanotechnology.

On the one hand, nanotechnology development may generate more international market demands. Nanotechnology research in Latin American countries has been arranged within international academic networks. These can influence local research programs geared towards more complicated foreign research. Last is the absence of research regarding. These can have adverse impacts on human health and environment as well as other implications to society. This may produce new forms of unequal distribution of benefits and additional risks that can extend for 10 to 20 years. The level and quality of research partnership is an essential factor in the growth of nanotechnology in Latin America. This is in terms of conducting research and shaping tools for modernization and deployment.

Admittedly, research logistics are inadequate in all Latin American countries. Thus, team work can be useful in obtaining available know-how and facilities. These include providing access to equipment for scientists and researchers. Collaborative research initiatives are essential in the performance of interdisciplinary research. This will harness new sources of information. Identify and act on substantial research problems. The merging nature of nanotechnology has become more significant. Research alliance may hasten transfer of knowledge for the use of nanotechnology.

One example is the partnership between researchers in international facilities and their counterparts in developing countries. There are many probable combinations of research partnership. Latin American nations can take into consideration three major strategies for collaboration in the development of nanotechnology. The first is within the country teamwork that concentrates on national targets. The second is the supra-national regional group effort involving other countries in Latin America. The third is the international alliance with researchers in nations that do not belong to Latin America, particularly those in principal institutions in highly developed countries. Nevertheless, said strategies are not jointly exclusive. There are differences in relation to geographical and organizational closeness. Also, look at the various implications for research and implications of application.

As an example, an approach to encourage internal collaborations will depend on home-grown capabilities and mirror explicit national goals. Industries or sectors are targeted to meet principal local demands or requirements. There will be long-term objectives such as strengthening internal competence to produce commodities that can reach international markets by means of major export industries. Underscoring this strategy needs the involvement of principal national groups together with government assistance to establish national priorities and organize the national campaign. 

Development of Research Collaboration (Towards 2030)

One vital strategy is the development of these research collaborations throughout the region going towards 2030. Fortunately, regional alliances exist between some nations. The countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay belong to MERCOSUR regional trade accord while Chile is an associate member. Hopefully, there will be more members before 2030 comes.

New partnerships in nanotechnology may be erected within such frameworks. Inter-regional linkages in Latin America can help in the further progress of nanotechnology. It will be of big help to widen global research cooperation outside Latin America. This can lead to tie-ups with other centers in the United States, Europe, and other first-world countries. This is expected to provide researchers in Latin American with opportunities to be exposed to the cutting edge of research and development. In the same manner, the underdeveloped nations can pull alongside or duplicate research performed by technology leaders. Worldwide partnerships may bring about technological innovation.

In certain instances, advanced countries conduct research programs so their people can work with counterparts in Latin America on relevant subject matter. These efforts are normally spearheaded by the academic community with some form of assistance from their respective governments. The entire Latin American continent is implementing strategies to develop programs geared towards information technology and nanotechnology.

However, research efforts have been confined to a few countries. Right now, Brazil leads all nations in nanotechnology studies. Next is Argentina. Chile is also becoming more involved in both regional and global initiatives while Uruguay is engaged in research in just one institution.

Latin American Experience 2005 was a breakthrough for nanotechnology in Latin America.

Brazil augmented federal subsidies for its nanotechnology program. On the other hand, the Senate Committee for Science and Technology of Mexico supported the development of a program for investment in nanotechnology research and education. In Colombia, a Nanotechnology Council was established.

All over the region, nanotechnology was recognized as one of the most important areas of planned technological development. Chile commissioned various research groups from academic institutions to study the Physics of condensed substances or nanotechnology. The Costa Rican government founded the Nanotechnology Laboratory, Micro Sensors, and Advanced Materials. The primary aim of this laboratory is to do design, research and production of micro sensors and nano tubes.

There are different universities and colleges in Mexico working together with research facilities on nanotechnologies. However, there is no federal program yet that will subsidize, organize and control nanotechnology. These are very important to get these institutions on their way to fortifying their initial accomplishments. Many of these research entities have made bilateral covenants with foreign groups from the United States and Europe.

Nearly all these Latin American nations believe that the key is to quicken the pace of nano science and nanotechnology there to help speed up their competitiveness. The main line of reasoning is that nanotechnology can enrich competitiveness and prevail over the issues of sluggish economy and related problems of destitution. This explains the mutual efforts to put together industry and trade with nanotechnology exploration. Then again, enhanced competitiveness is not the same as raising the living standards of citizens in Latin America.

Look at China. This Asian nation has risen to power during the last few years and is now the fourth biggest economic power in the whole world. Yet, there is massive disparity despite the economic boom and competition. The growth of competitiveness is by no means an assurance that there can be empowerment, public participation and strong democracy. After the United States embarked on its nanotechnology program, several Latin American countries followed suit.

Latin American proposals are set apart by the following common premises:

• Failure to take into account prospective socio-economic effects of new technologies

• Absence of formal studies about health and ecological hazards or moral implications connected to nanotechnology

• Failure to make a process for extensive participation in the elaboration of proposals which reduced discussion to a particular group of scientists.

Meanwhile, while the United States and Europe were studying the need for the integration of nanotechnology matters into the secondary school education coursework, the nanotechnology programs in Latin America were limited to training selected researchers and prominent scientists. With the absence of scientific basis, it is probable that the best researchers will end up working overseas and hired by multinational corporations.

There are several Latin American institutions such as the Argentine Nanotechnology Foundation, Mexican nanotechnology proposals or Brazilian documents that consider likely threats related to nanotechnology.

These Latin American countries must ponder on a variety of impacts of nanotechnology to be able to create laws that will apply to nanotechnology. It is necessary to assess the outcomes and problems such as lack of experienced personnel, equipment and facilities. On top of these is the aspect of financial resources which are badly needed to make sure that American governments can push through with research efforts. There should be a distinct policy on precautionary measures or else, it will be difficult for them to sustain these nanotechnology initiatives.

Information Technology Revolution

The immense role of information technology is evident in ensuring that the economy of Latin America becomes stronger.

Economic forecasts have been made since the advent of the 20th century. There have been numerous international conferences on the various aspects of an Information Technology Revolution. The truth is technology innovation is entangled with regional and international economic conditions. It is not only the situation in Latin America that should be considered but the global economy as well.

So far, the principal issues at hand are the following:

• Distinct role of governments as well as large corporations (foreign and local) and small or medium enterprises.

• Relationship with world powers such as the United States and other nations like China, or United Kingdom in relation to technology and resources.

• Need to train skilled individuals with models like Silicon Valley and New York City. The challenges for Latin America are the same for other nations.

Information technology revolution in the region may be classified into three.

One is to create technology. The other is to embody technology in products. The third is to offer and use services based on these products.

The concerns of Latin Americans are not merely the Internet or communications. It is the whole range of technologies that can reform or restructure communications. The proponents and stakeholders must study the effects of said technologies on the economy and societies as a whole.

Technology should be viewed from the perspective of business, politics and governance. The impact of information technology modernization reaches out to all societies. The different dimensions cannot be split.

Expected Technology Developments in Different Latin American Countries

Mexico City

Mexico is said to be developing new technology solutions that will hopefully address urgent energy and water concerns. The future of the economy will depend on the capability to create more enterprises in the areas of nanotechnology and information technology. The idea is to establish as a Technology Innovation Center which will be the nucleus of Technology21.

It will function as a roadmap that pinpoints particular technology opportunities that government must support. This innovation hub will be used for coordination and management of state programs related to science and technology. 

It is also meant to support potential technologies in four particular areas. These are computing, technology innovation, energy, and water. The Center will bring together different sectors of the technology and science communities. In the process, this can help up-and-coming technologies primarily though the assistance of the state or city.

Sao Paolo Brazil The Brazilian government will spearhead a so-called Global Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance from April 23 to 24 of this year. The conference will focus on the formulation of Internet Governance tenets and propose a master plan for the broadening of information technology control. Buenos Aires

Argentina

The Buenos Aires Plan of Action for the Implementation and Promotion of Technical Cooperation was convened and formulated by the United Nations several decades ago. It was meant to enhance cooperation in technology aspects among Latin American nations.

Technology development in Buenos Aires from 2014 onwards can cover the following areas:

Cloud Hybrid information technology; Analytics for large volume of data; Real time social sharing; and, Mobile devices.

For example, a company called MULE SOFT found a location in Buenos Aires because of the environment and expertise conducive to development. Buenos Aires is working closely with their counterparts in San Francisco for pertinent projects. This is an initiative that can be the predecessor of more complex projects in the future.

Rio de Janeiro Brazil

More incentives associated with technology growth as well as infrastructure in Rio de Janeiro. Telecommunications providers have launched 4G networks in time for the 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

Microsoft also announced that a $100 million technology hub will be launched in this city. Rio de Janeiro will also house the $500 million innovation hub of Cisco Systems.

This will include a venture capital fund and cooperative development of novel technologies.

Colombia Bogota

What does the future hold for Bogota in terms of technology growth?

The country of Colombia has the third largest economy in Latin America. Things are moving fast in Bogota. There are strong government support and tax incentives for foreign investors in the technology sector. This has hastened the position of Bogota as one of the most dominant cities in the region. For example, Telefonica came up with a tech program to enhance innovation not only in Latin America but Europe as well. The first academy was established Bogota with 14 others in both continents. Bogota has been described as a “tech cluster” and more developments are expected within the next 20 years.

Lima, Peru

Private investors find the city of Lima very favorable to technology development. The IT setting continues to grow and expected to improve further until 2030. In January of 2013, a regional preparatory conference was held to pave the way for a yearly review of The United Nations Economic and Social Council on Science, Technology and Innovation. This will be discussion among stakeholders in the industry and go beyond 2014 until 2030.

Chile Santiago

The country of Chile has the most modern telecom infrastructure in Latin America. Economic and political stability is beyond compare. Internet usage is high. Unfortunately, investments in the technology sector are low. For so long, the national government has been working with the private sector to come up with a solid agenda that will bring investors closer especially in its capital city, Santiago. This approach is expected to accelerate the slow growth of information technology beyond 2015. The initial plan was to transform Chile into a digital country since 2011. Yet, this still has to be realized. The primary phase consisted of attaining the “inter operability” of public services. Laws on promoting efficiency through electronic processes should also be strengthened. Value for technology must be created while more entrepreneurs should be persuaded to cast their lots on IT investments.

Venezuela Caracas

Venezuela is a country where all large media outlets are under the wings of influential citizens. However, the government started promoting technological independence. This was aimed at bringing education, medical services and communications to the poorest communities. After more than one decade, there are now more than 700 information centers that provide locals technology services for free. This is not only in Caracas but also isolated towns throughout the nation. By 2030, the government envisions a more technologically improved Venezuela.

Medellin Colombia Prospects for technology growth remain high in Medellin which is adjudged as the most innovative urban center in the whole world. It is widely believed that development will go on for the next 15 years or so. The city offers a lot of opportunities to foreign investors such as ICT specifically in business process outsourcing; shared centers; integration of information technology; software; and information center development.

Guadalajara Mexico

Guadalajara is the biggest city in Latin America in terms of population. It is also the biggest technology center in Mexico. The economy depends mainly on information technology. That is why tech development will probably continue until 2030 and even beyond. Technology evolves so enterprise functions are integrated for both IT and business functions.

Conclusion

It is vital to create conditions for free access to information as well as advancement in technology and science to attain a genuine and sustained development in Latin America. There should be an honest and sustained effort in technology growth so that the ultimate goal is realized.

Governments must put their acts together and work with the international community to attain this tall order. We are looking at the future of information technology and nanotechnology in each and every Latin American country. The facts and issues have been presented in this article. Now it is time to make projections from 2015 until 2030.

Innovation in technology is a phenomenon that should be reviewed carefully by all of these nations. No stone should be left unturned but it is also important to exercise caution in the process. Again, all these efforts should be seen as one comprehensive procedure and simply a single event. It is a complicated process that all Latin American countries must be responsible for. It is a combination of the process of planning, organizing, operation, and assuming the risks of this complex undertaking.

Moreover, Latin America is still far behind other developed nations in the international community. There are still many things to be achieved before the region finally reaches this stage. combination of the ions. No stone should be left unturned.   

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