LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 LATIN AMERICA, BOGOTA: Daniel Quintero, vice minister in Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (pictured), believes new technologies hold the key to delivering societal benefits throughout Latin America.

He explained connectivity and communications “have been a priority” for the government of Colombia since 2010, and noted the ultimate goal is to connect 100 per cent of municipalities in the country, up from 20 per cent seven years ago.

But there are challenges, not least of which is Colombia’s population is geographically dispersed – around 15 per cent live in capital city Bogota and the surrounding areas: “Technology has the power to take education, justice and governance” to remote areas, Quintero noted.

On the flip side, automation, IoT and artificial intelligence “will no doubt transform the labour force, which will have a natural effect on the economy at large” – including potentially jobs lost. But Quintero believes by training and educating citizens on the digital economy and e-commerce, it will be possible to “take advantage of this as an opportunity to occupy a new place in the global economy”.

The focus on technology and education is not just about Colombia’s citizens: the government itself needs to embrace new technologies to keep pace with a growing expectation from the public regarding the manner in which authorities conduct themselves.

“We are convinced it is the only thing we can do. If you are not ahead of the change, you will have to react to it later on,” Quintero said.