Since Iván Duque took office as president of Colombia in 2018, we have heard him call the country the next “Silicon Valley of Latin America”, but how true is this? The origin of the statement (meme?) comes mainly from a statement that the president made in early June at a public event in which with patriotic pride he affirmed that: “Today we can say that, as Steve Wozniak (the co-founder of Apple) said a few days ago in Bogotá, Colombia is today the Silicon Valley of Latin America. It surely lacks many things to resemble the Silicon Valley of California, but it is the Silicon Valley of Latin America”. And the only thing clear about this statement is that, as if it were Bettle Juice, the outgoing president believes that repeating something many times makes it true.
But reviewing the legacy of his government makes it clear that we are as close to being the Silicon Valley of Latam, as Monserrate is to being Notre Dame. Silicon Valley in the United States saw the birth and helped grow companies like Google, Facebook, Uber, Snapchat. In return, in Colombia, at least 50% of households are today without internet, small businesses have tax after tax and technology vacancies remain empty because we do not have trained professionals.
It is worth clarifying that in addition to housing the big tech, Silicon Valley has investment funds, a key point to support these companies that started as a business unicorn. Making a comparison with Colombia, according to the ICT Ministry, in the last 4 years, 119,000 Colombian entrepreneurs and 1,895 businessmen around the country received tools that strengthen their digital business idea. The numbers on paper are not bad, however, it is not a considerable number compared to Silicon Valley.
This city is built as an entrepreneurial ecosystem; In schools, children are taught to undertake, how to program, organize their finances, everything related to the business field. Meanwhile, in Colombia, according to the Public Employment Service Unit (SPE), after the pandemic there are at least 62,000 vacancies in the technology sector that remain empty because there are no trained professionals for the position; that’s not very Silicon Valley of us.
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Now, if we talk about digital transformation, we also lose the year. Although in large cities such as Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, etc. We already have digital wallet options, mobility platforms, home applications, among others; our rural regions do not even have internet. According to the 2018-2022 Management Report of the National Planning Department (DNP), the Duque government had planned to bring internet connection to 70% of Colombian households, however, only 46.2% of households have access to internet. this service today. And not to mention the implementation of 5G networks, which do not have a tender, just pilot projects.
On the other hand, we cannot think of being Silicon Valley without Fintechs having an important role. Yes, we have Uber, Beat, Rappi, Go Green, etc. but, unfortunately, we do not have sufficient regulation for them to function smoothly. For several years, these companies have asked the government for a single regulation that regulates their services. Cryptocurrencies are traveling this same path today, which, although they have had a sharp drop in recent months, are considered by many to be the currency of the future, but apparently in Colombia they are not seen in the same way.
I think we are far from thinking about being the Silicon Valley of Latin America and as you said Alex Torrenegra to President Duque “False. Unfortunately, there is neither the time nor the plasticine to explain it to you”. Realistically, Mexico would be closer to being the mecca of technology, thanks to its proximity to the United States, its size, and its environment that is more linked to digital transformation than Colombia. We can even say that Brazil is also close to it, due to its workforce dedicated to the technological environment and the hundreds of unicorns that are developed in the country. President Duque, do not lie to the country; Within 64 countries analyzed for their digital competitiveness by the International Institute for Management Development, we are ranked 59th.