OECD Highlights Costa Rica’s Progress in Digital Transformation

Costa Rica stands out for democratizing the use of digital technologies and having Internet access figures of more than 74% of the population, much higher than the regional average, and digital transformation efforts, indicators that favor post-COVID recovery actions.

This is highlighted by the most recent OECD report on Latin American Economic Outlook 2020 (LEO), indicating that in the last decade Costa Rica has made significant progress in digital inclusion.

According to the publication, in 2018 Internet users represented more than 74% of the population, a figure that continues to increase. That same year, the number of subscriptions to mobile broadband services was 100.9 per 100 inhabitants and those for fixed broadband were 16.6 per 100 inhabitants, figures well above the averages for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) (73.5 and 13.9, respectively).

The report also highlighted the country’s progress in Electronic Government, as well as the adoption of national strategies and international cooperation agreements to promote digital transformation, with the National Plan for the Development of Telecommunications 2015-2021 and the Strategy for Digital Transformation towards the Costa Rica of the Bicentennial, whose implementation, coordination and follow-up are in charge of the MICITT.

It listed the actions taken by the country to ensure the continuity and maintenance of Internet services during the pandemic, which made it possible to use technology as a management and information tool for the population and urged the country to continue making progress on issues related to data, open and inclusive access to technologies.

For Paola Vega Castillo, Minister of the MICITT, the crisis generated by COVID-19 demonstrated the importance of digital technologies as drivers in post-pandemic recovery, allowing better access to public services such as health and education,

as well as an important dynamizer of the economy.

“The results of the Report demonstrates that we must re-access the use and appropriation of digital technologies in Costa Rican, to strengthen the country’s economy and open greater opportunities for social mobility and better quality of life for all people”, said the Minister.

Vega agrees with the report in stating that digital transformation will not drive development automatically, but it is required to continue creating conditions facilitating the access to ICTs and digital transformation.

Digital transformation

Minister Vega agrees with the report that digital transformation will not automatically drive development, but rather that it is necessary to continue with the implementation of public policies that facilitate digital transformation for the well-being of all people.

Recently, the increase in the goals of the Connected Homes Program and the Equipped Public Spaces Program was approved to support the students of the Ministry of Public Education with connectivity and access devices to continue in the non-face-to-face mode of the school year the situation generated by the pandemic. This will allow the attention of 147,146 additional families with connectivity and access device (laptop or tablet) to serve about 215,936 students.

Likewise, days ago the bill for the creation of the National Program for Digital Literacy was presented to the Legislative Assembly, which would be permanently integrated into the National Plan for the Development of Telecommunications and financed with funds from Fonatel, a fundamental initiative to consolidate the teaching-learning process for the generation of skills and abilities in the use of ICT.

The LEO report is a joint annual publication produced by the Development Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Economic Commission for double our efforts to massively promote the Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations, the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the European Commission.

Duayner Salas, acting Minister of Foreign Trade and Coordinator of Costa Rica’s entry process to the OECD, highlighted the value of this type of study as a tool to make decisions based on data, showing the results of public policies and define areas improvement.

For Salas, “the OECD allows public administrations to share best practices and their technical knowledge, which generates a culture of continuous improvement and translates into better services for all people.”

In its 2020 edition, the report explores how digital transformation can help address the current socio-economic situation, boost productivity, strengthen institutions, and achieve higher levels of inclusion and well-being; it also highlights the key role that international alliances play in harnessing the benefits of digital transformation.

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