Authors: Carlos Sabatino

At the turn of the 21st century, only 30 percent of Latin American citizens had access to the Internet. In recent years (as of 2017), this number has doubled to 62 percent, but the gains are unevenly distributed (ITU 2015). The region still lags Europe and North America in network speeds and full mobile access. Digitally connecting the hemisphere remains one of the key challenges for Latin America to fully leverage the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) to boost productivity and enhance government efficiency. The nation of Uruguay is a notable outlier in these regional trends. In the early 2000s, the government recognized the economic and social gains from a web-connected citizenry and devised a far-reaching plan to improve the country’s mobile and Internet infrastructure. At the time, only 10 percent of Uruguay’s population had access to the web, and broadband speeds were much slower than in developed countries. As a small country, heavily dependent on exports of beef and agricultural goods, Uruguay saw digital connectivity as an opportunity to speed up its economic development and modernize its engagement with everyday citizens through e-government services.

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