Miguel Porrúa: Latin America is still submerged in digital strategy backwardness

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  • Sun, 11/18/2018 - 19:57
  • EFE

Raquel Sánchez

The effort made by Latin America to raise its face with a digital transformation is lagging behind, a problem tied to the lack of economic resources, human capital and decision, the leading specialist in E-Government of the IDB, Miguel Porrúa, told Efe.

"The digital government in Latin America is a little less in the middle of the road; some countries made significant progress, but others are very at the beginning of doing this work," the expert said in an interview in Panama.

The official of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) declared that, of the 32 nations of the hemisphere, only 19 have an electronic government strategy, and of this figure, only half have financial resources to carry out the plans.

"Convincing political leaders, having human talent to develop government plans and investment are the three main challenges to advance in the development of this proposal that is beginning to take shape," said Porrúa.

According to the rate of advance of electronic government, only countries like Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay are at the forefront.

In response, he said that in order to show results, the IDB and the Electronic Government Network of Latin America and the Caribbean (GEALC Network) launched the report "The Value of the Digital Government", where they show 12 successful cases in the region that implemented tools and solutions to positively impact citizens and businesses.

Another of the sequels that worries the specialist is cybersecurity, on the one hand, there are no contingency plans to protect critical structures of nations and on the other, the lack of academic offer to prepare professionals to protect data against external attacks.

He confirmed that a cybersecurity study in 2106 by the IDB and the Organization of American States (OAS) showed that only 6 of 32 countries in Latin America have a cybersecurity policy, adding that in 2019 the update of nations is expected to increase to 12.

"International studies show that cyber-attacks cost on average 0.5 percent of a country's gross domestic product (GDP); in terms of business money is lost and this is happening every day," Porrúa warned.

He added that there are not enough professionals either, given the lack of cybersecurity training programs in the academic world, nor masters or engineering in that sector, which is a problem to implement appropriate policies.

Another specific issue that he emphasized, to render concrete electronic democracy, was the progress in terms of public management procedures to offer more agile digital services to citizens and businesses.

"Technology avoids corruption, given that being a tool of the process the treatment given to the process can be followed, generating efficiency, transparency, money saving and eliminates possible areas of corruption," explained the IDB representative.

Another IDB report, "End of the Eternal Process: Citizens, Bureaucracy and Digital Government," revealed that in-person management costs local governments up to 40 times more than the possible cost of the equivalent service on a digital platform.

He stated that in the last 5 years more commitments of the leaders have been noted, but it must go hand in hand with access to the Internet, in addition to promoting digital literacy.

"Technology exposes elements; firstly, it is an apology to rethink things and how to do it differently and what is done wrong, and secondly, to make a change in the processes, because alone it will not change anything, but if used correctly things can be improved," he reflected.

The specialist participated in the City of Panama at the 5th Ministerial Meeting of Electronic Government and the 12th Meeting of the Electronic Government Network of Latin America and the Caribbean (GEALC Network) that ended Friday, with the presence of ministers of the technological area of at least 23 countries in the region.

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