Public Access ICT in Colombia

Public Access ICT in Colombia

Luis Fernando Barón (Icesi University, Colombia) and Mónica Valdés (Fundación Colombia Multicolor, Colombia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-771-5.ch014
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Even though internal armed conflict has marked recent Colombian history, Colombia shows extraordinary economic stability and steady human-capital growth, which places it among the countries that lead the region’s development. Located at South-America’s northwestern corner, and in a tropical zone that touches the Equator, as well as being half way between both continental poles, Colombia’s location is geostrategic and favors commerce and communications. In addition to an incalculable natural diversity, as well as a wide range in climate and ecosystems, Colombia has resources for commercial development due to its proximity to the Panama Canal and to long coastlines that give onto the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Atlantic Ocean through the Caribbean Sea. All of these factors allow Colombia to be the entrance gate to South America and to have ports that face the rest of the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific Rim countries.

The effects of armed violence and internal conflict, which has extended over more than six decades, as well as drug trafficking and associated crime, have certainly had a significant influence on human lives, the environment, and the slow economic and social development. Nevertheless, foreign investment and some industries—like mining—have grown dramatically. According to the IMF Western Hemisphere Department’s report, “Regional Economic Outlook: the Americas,” in 2010, the Colombian gross domestic product (GDP) will be better than the performance of the continent’s stronger economies (i.e., Brazil, and Venezuela, US, Mexico,).

All in all, however, the fruits of progress have not resulted in either a poverty decrease or in the adoption of a human focus on Colombian development. In fact, Colombia is one of the most inequitable countries in South America. According to data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), government social expenditure has failed to meet peoples’ demands or protected vulnerable groups. Hand in hand with the economic-growth data are the data about poverty, which affects nearly 46% of the population, with 17.8% living in extreme poverty.

With 45 million people, Colombia has the third largest population in Latin America and a total area of 2,070,408 square kilometers (1,141,748 square km of continental territory and 928,660 square km of sea), with a density rate of 42.7 (36). As the rest of Latin America, Colombia is proud of its culture, which combines local folklore with colonial inheritance. Colombia has a long tradition of right-wing governments with a capitalist free-market system. This process — called “economic liberalization”— started in the 1990s with President Cesar Gaviria, who passed several constitutional amendments that led to a new Constitution, opening the way to a globalized market and to a progressive decentralization.

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