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April 18, 2016
Countries around the world vie for the title as the up-coming Silicon Valley showing off their latest and best start-ups and building hype around the next tech game-changers. While offers from Israel to China may entice investors, the majority of countries going down this route offer similar incentives and therefore creating a crowded space with little differentiation. This was the case, at least until the beginning of this week when Colombia launched its, ‘Colombia Bring IT On’ campaign.
Spurred on by national demand for services such as business risk and supply chain management solutions, Colombia’s ‘Bring IT On’ campaign is its first national technology initiative. However, instead of joining the long queue of countries lining up to be billed as the next Silicon Valley, Colombia has taken a different strategy by pushing its service sector. With the likes of HP and IBM opening up multi-billion dollar data centres in Colombia at the beginning of 2014, it is calling on other major companies to follow suit. Following a surge in tourism and the positively changing perspective about Colombia today, if this campaign follows in the same footsteps as the tourism one, Colombia will reap many benefits. Growing visitation numbers both in terms of business and leisure has increased the demand for domestic technology development. Whilst Colombia’s neighbours have been concentrating on attracting entrepreneurs and companies from around the world to assist in the development, Colombia has focused on creating homegrown developments.
For developing regions like Latin America, attracting investment and assistance from more technologically developed countries whether monetarily or otherwise is essential. However what cannot be ignored is the importance of training the domestic population to lead their country’s technology and service growth. Colombia has taken this on-board and in other campaigns such as ‘Vive Digital’ which provides internet broadband access to rural communities, it is run alongside education initiatives to train a workforce in software development. By paying careful attention to its local population, the country will be better equipped to meet national and international technology service demands both in the short and long term.
Other service sector intensive nations such as India and the Philippines are prime examples of the role the services industry has to play. It now looks to be Latin America’s turn to further their export capacity by building up a strong service sector, which is an essential piece of the jigsaw within a region looking to urbanise further. In the case of Colombia, the country is flowing with natural resources and high-quality manufactured goods such as fruits, vegetables and textiles. If the country is looking to have equal opportunities as competing Southeast Asian countries, Colombia will need to enhance its technology platforms and consolidate production into a more efficient way.
Large data centres are springing up around Colombia thanks to recent investment by large corporations like HP, IBM and Sykes Enterprises. With more than US$3 billion in sales in 2013, the need for greater growth in all technology industries and not just manufacturing and exportation is needed. Although Colombia’s regional neighbours like Brazil and Mexico are continuing to grow their aviation and automotive industry innovations Colombia has pledged to modernise all of its sectors from human capital to financial services. Latin America’s need to develop the tools possible for modernisation and the connections provided by the free-flow of trade as outlined by free-trade agreements will continue to spur the service sector growth. The responsibility of this development does not solely lie on the shoulders of foreign investors but also on the countries themselves. It is vital to the Latin America’s development and progress that investors do not only consider moving into the region but also to provide capital and education that will help it take the right steps forward. With Colombia being ready and challenging the world to ‘Bring IT On’, it won’t be long until other Latin American countries begin to follow suit.
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