Sustainable Development Goal 9 directly addresses the need for greater access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), but in fact all the pillars of sustainable development rely on ICTs.
As former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once put it, “Information and communication technologies are the drivers of the global economy and have revolutionized how we communicate, interact socially and do business. ICTs also provide innovative solutions to combat climate change, improve health care and education, and empower women and the vulnerable.”
In other words, no matter what the overall development goal—whether ending poverty or hunger, improving water and sanitation services, expanding access to affordable, clean energy—ICTs will play a role in reaching it faster. Digital technologies are critical tools to achieve economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection.
Even though the private sector is doing a booming business in the region in ICTs, many people are still being left behind. At IDB Invest, we support efforts to connect and innovate to reduce that digital divide. That includes projects both to expand broadband connectivity and to improve delivery of services in different industries through digital technology.
The financial sector is one area in which technologies are already making an enormous impact. So-called fintech companies are upending the ways people borrow money, buy products, pay their bills and receive services. By investing in fintech ventures, IDB Invest is helping to broaden financial inclusion and reach segments of the population that traditional financial institutions have failed.
With all the technologies being developed and perfected today—from drones and 3D printing to artificial intelligence and virtual reality—it is especially critical for Latin America and the Caribbean to be fully connected and keep pace with innovation. That will increase competitiveness and productivity, strengthen economic growth and accelerate development.