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LatAm seeking non-traditional methods for managing data traffic

LATIN AMERICA DIGITALIZATION | 02 de diciembre de 2019

The vice president for infrastructure at the CAF-Development Bank for Latin America, Antonio Silveira, participates on Dec. 2, 2019, at a business seminar in Panama City, Panama, to discuss providing infrastructure to enable Latin America to improve its data traffic management, a project that will require $160 billion in investment in the coming years. EFE-EPA/Bienvenido Velasco

By Giovanna Ferullo

Panama City, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- A digital hub in Panama and an undersea cable from Chile to China are projects that are designed to open up non-traditional routes for data flow in Latin America, a region that in the coming decade will require an investment of at least $160 billion to overcome its relative lag in the digitalization sector.

"There's a big need for investment in digital infrastructure in the region. We're about 40 percent behind in relation to the developed countries," the vice president for infrastructure at the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, Antonio Silveira, told EFE on Monday.

The general aim is to develop the so-called digital ecosystem, which joins infrastructure with all the software networks, regulations and incentives for online entrepreneurship in the countries of the region, the executive said.

As part of the efforts to develop Latin America's online ecosystem, CAF is working on projects for a "digital hub" in Panama.

"Today, we're completing a study for the installation of a digital hub in Panama, which is going to be the first in Latin America and is very important because it's through here that the data traffic will flow and not Miami or Europe, like happens now," he said.

According to the study, which cost some $400,000, according to Silveira, the amount of investment needed to set up this digital hub in Panama "isn't very much."

"Soon, we'll have a series of meetings precisely to tally the amount of investment (needed) for this. We already have interest from the private sector and the public sector. There's a convergence of interests in this," he said.

Silveira emphasized that one of the impacts of the digital hub for Panama will be that "the cost of interconnectedness should fall a great deal. The figure we have is between 20 percent and 30 percent savings in the interconnectedness of data."

"And the important thing is that the data are starting to move through the region and not just outside the region," he added.

CAF also is financing "studies for an interconnection cable between South America and Asia that would run from Chile to China," he said.

The undersea cable "is also going to allow data traffic outside the traditional routes, which are Europe and the United States. This is very important for the (Latin American) region," Silveira said.

Developing this digital ecosystem "is central for development," said Silveira, who has a doctorate in economics from the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro.

"What's happening now with artificial intelligence, with the whole evolution of digital technology, is that if we don't have the possibility of incorporating this into our lives, we're going to slip backwards and it's going to create very pronounced inequality," he said.

Although a large part of the investment of $160 billion will come from private industry, "the state has to provide ... an environment that allows innovation, that incentivizes entrepreneurship and provides ... training to have access to this issue, which is so important for development," he added.

Silveira is in Panama City to participate in the seminar titled "Government and digital infrastructure for regional integration" organized by CAF within the framework of the multilateral organization's 50th anniversary.

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