Employment in the telecoms sector has risen by 60% across 15 Latin American countries in recent years and, in spite of the recession, investment in the sector is also on the rise in the region.

Telecoms Industry Boosting Growth in Latin America

AHCIET, an association representing 50 information and communications sector companies from all over Latin America, and Ovum, a UK-based research and advisory firm specialising in ICT, have together launched the ‘Observatory of Telecoms Indicators in Latin America’, whose purpose is to “analyse the digital ecosystem and identify and quantify the socio-economic contribution of the telecoms industry to the development and prosperity of the Latin American economy.” In this first study, the Observatory concludes that telecoms services have considerably increased their impact in Latin America. Not only have they “become increasingly present in the daily lives of millions of Latin Americans who communicate and work using new access technologies; they are also expanding their influence and contribution to the economic development of the countries in the region,” claims an AHCIET-Ovum news release.

Telecoms boosting employment, driving investment

Between 2008 and 2011, the total telecommunications sector workforce more than doubled in Brazil and Nicaragua and almost doubled in Guatemala. In the region, close to 250,000 jobs were created in the sector. Meanwhile, capital investment by telecoms companies increased by more than 28% over the same period as telcos “focus on the deployment of access infrastructure to meet demand for services and digital inclusion,” says the release. Despite the global recession which began in 2008, investment grew to more than US $22 trillion in 2011. According to the Observatory: “Strong growth in fixed (72%) and mobile (41%) connections between 2008 and 2011 has boosted connectivity for millions of new users across the region, who are now part of the ‘information society.”

Fostering public-private cooperation

This first Observatory study demonstrates that the telecoms sector is making a positive contribution to economic growth in the region. AHCIET Secretary-General Pablo Bello points to data showing that “countries which have made the most progress are those where key players in the digital ecosystem recognise the need for public-private cooperation.” Ovum believes that regulators and policy-makers should be working together to encourage further investment. Argues Bello: “The key is to invest intensively in next-generation access networks and to educate people on the sophisticated uses of digital connectivity, a challenge facing all participants.” The Observatory says it will continue to provide indicators to help players in the digital economy identify the factors which can speed up the integration of Latin America into the ‘information society’.

By Pauline Trassard