CARTAGENA, Colombia - The number of Internet users doubled between 2006 and 2013 in Latin America, where roughly 47 percent of the population currently uses that interconnected system of computer networks, according to a study presented in Colombia.
That conclusion is contained in the study titled "The Digital Ecosystem and Economy in Latin America," prepared by telecommunications expert Raul Katz, an adjunct professor at the Columbia Business School in New York.
Sponsored by the Development Bank of Latin America, or CAF; the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Telefonica Foundation, the study was presented at the Andicom International ICT Congress, which began Wednesday in this Caribbean city.
It found that the "massification" of the Internet in Latin America - including a hike in the number of Web users in Colombia of 11.26 percent annually in the 2009-2013 period - is primarily due to reduced prices for connectivity services.
But despite this progress, "local (Web-based) services and applications have not grown at the same rate as connectivity," Katz told EFE.
"In the regional average of the 100 most popular Web sites, only 26 are local and 63 percent of the traffic is international, mostly directed toward the United States," he said.
Katz also highlighted the need to reduce the deficit in the number of qualified specialists in the technology sector.
"We have to create short-term degree programs for training personnel in the area of technology development; they don't necessarily have to obtain an engineering degree, but so that in two years they can be in the market producing some of these services," the expert added.
Katz also stressed the need to tap into Latin Americans' creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to create "viable businesses" that provide applications, content and services that reflect the needs of the local market, as opposed to merely imitating "what may be happening elsewhere."