Internet connections in Colombia have more than trebled in the past three years, rising from 2.2 million connections in 2010 to 7.2 million in the second quarter of 2013. The dramatic rise shows that the Government of President Juan Manuel Santos, who entered office on August 7 2010, is making progress on its aim to spur a digital revolution in Colombia as part of its pledge to reduce poverty and increase employment opportunities through the mass utilization of the Internet.
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MinTIC) states that by the end of 2014, 50% of Colombian households will be linked up to the Internet, with 8.8 million connections expected. Such trends in rising numbers of tech users show the Government’s Vive Digital, or Digital Life, plan announced in 2010 is on track to hit its targets. From infrastructure and equipment expansion to applications and services development, as well as introducing end-users to the world online, Vive Digital is making an impact on people’s lives.
“Digital technology is transforming societies, generating growth and prosperity, and changing the way we communicate and interact with others,” says ICT Minister Dr. Diego Molano Vega.
The plan also intends to increase Internet connections among micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) from 7% in 2010 to 50% by 2014. The significance of MSMEs cannot be understated: more than 95% of the country’s companies fall into that category. Therefore the Government poured US$33 billion into a Bancoldex fund to support the development of ICT applications for MSMEs under the MiPyme Digital Initiative, which forms part of Vive Digital.
The Government is also pulling out all the stops to put more official administration procedures and requests online through its e-government drive. Currently 770 municipalities – 10% more than the targeted 700 by this point – are connected by high-speed fiber-optic cables. In fact the country now has five underwater fiber-optic cables, with another four under construction, making it the best internationally connected country in the region.
Over the past three years the ICT Ministry has been working hard to reach out to rural areas of the country, implementing the Vive Digital Kiosks project, which will install at least one Internet access point in rural villages of more than 100 people, eventually hitting a total of 5,344 nationwide. Today, 1,100 Vive Digital Kiosks are already up and running in remote communities and areas that are difficult to access.