Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) Report

This report presents the findings and recommendations of the Colombia DECA pilot, which was conducted between November 2019 and February 2020. The DECA outlines the key aspects of the country’s digital ecosystem and provides recommendations for the country’s growing digital connectivity infrastructure to achieve and sustain open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems.

Colombia poses a unique opportunity in terms of digital development. A favorable policy environment is paired with relatively high levels of internet affordability and use (where internet is available), compared to other Latin American countries. The challenge, however, is accessing an internet connection in rural areas where both connectivity and digital literacy lag. The government is committed to expanding inclusion of marginalized populations by improving digital connectivity and fostering innovation. In 2019, Medellín was established as the first Spanish-speaking affiliate for the World Economic Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which elevates the impact of emerging technologies through public-private partnerships. However, 50 years of internal conflict in Colombia presents challenges to establishing digital infrastructure, security, and trust. Such challenges impede country-wide adoption of digital tools and programs, but opportunities exist to leverage the country’s innovation ecosystem for inclusion-oriented programming.

The Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) pilot phase began September 2019 and the Colombia DECA was the flagship pilot. It was conducted between November 2019 and February 2020 and included 60 key informant interviews with stakeholders from civil society, academia, the private and public sectors, international development organizations, and USAID/Colombia implementing partners. The DECA was guided by USAID Colombia 2020-2025 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS), which includes three development objectives:

  1. A more cohesive and inclusive society resilient to conflict
  2. Strengthened governance to meet citizen needs and increase citizen confidence in the state
  3. Promote equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth

Pillar 1: Digital Infrastructure and Adoption

  • Successive governments have sought to spread technology and connectivity across the country. However, the initiatives seem to lack long-term planning and communities appear to be ill-equipped not only to assume the costs after central government funding runs out but to generate the demand for the internet given low levels of digital literacy.
  • Insufficient internet connectivity is one of the greatest barriers to expanding digital access for remote and marginalized populations. Colombia’s history of conflict combined with its diverse geography make digital infrastructure investments risky and costly for mobile network operators (MNOs).
  • There are innovative technology solutions and partnership models that could complement government efforts to reach last-mile users including public WiFi networks operating on unlicensed spectrum, TV White Space networks, and community network models.
  • Women and young girls face heightened risk of harassment and abduction facilitated through digital platforms (e.g., on social media) given the history of violence and ongoing crime in the country.

Pillar 2: Digital Society, Rights, and Governance

  • Colombia’s digital environment is considered mostly free, open, and democratic. However, threats to civil society persist.
  • There are anecdotal links between digital security breaches and physical violence, and cyber hygiene capacity building can be an important component of broader security efforts.
  • Electronic biometric collection (particularly fingerprints) appears to be more widespread than in other countries in the region with the National Civil Registry (RNEC) offering fingerprint authentication services through private-sector partners.

Pillar 3: Digital Economy

  • There is potential for digital financial solutions to bolster financial inclusion and accelerate economic reintegration of conflict-affected populations.
  • Colombia is home to robust policy-level support for financial inclusion. There is also a strong emphasis on innovation and in particular on FinTech from the financial regulator.
  • Weak rural connectivity is an impediment to DFS adoption. The degree of use tends to correlate with broadband and mobile penetration; urban centers are home to the primary users of online banking and digital finance applications. This urban-rural divide is compounded by years of armed conflict, which made opening physical bank branches in many parts of Colombia risky if not impossible.
  • Meaningful financial inclusion faces complex challenges around transaction costs, banking and connectivity infrastructure, consumer trust, and interoperability.
  • While use of e-commerce is increasing, Colombia’s cash economy and lack of trust in online purchasing systems contribute to slow uptake.

mAccess Indicators & Rankings

The information below is part of the mAccess Diagnostic Tool and is intended to help assess foundational components of Colombia’s digital ecosystem using indicators on internet availability, affordability, access, and use. Click here to explore the full tool.

Country Snapshot – Colombia

  • 2G Coverage:


  • 3G Coverage:


  • Cost per SMS in USD for 10,000 bulk SMS:


  • EIU Rank:


  • ITU IDI Rank:


  • Number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs):


  • Living 2G Coverage ( in million ):


  • Living 3G Coverage ( in million ):


  • No of MBBC:


  • Not using Mobile Internet 2G Coverage:


  • Number of active mobile money agents:


  • Number of active mobile money users:


  • Smartphones 3G Coverage:


  • WEF Rank:


Access – Colombia

  • Land-lines per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile broadband connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile internet users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Active SIM cards per 100 inhabitants:


Affordability – Colombia

  • Mobile prepaid 1GB basket:


  • Moblie Prepaid 1GB basket – largest operator:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket – largest operator:


  • Effective price:


  • GB per GDPC:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket:


Competition – Colombia

  • Market concentration:


  • Interconnection: Mobile Termination Rates:


  • Highest MNO EBITDA Margin in country:


  • Mobile-specific taxes / TCMO:


  • Number of Mobile Operators:


  • Market share of largest mobile operators:


Infrastructure – Colombia

  • International bandwidth per user:


  • Connections per Base stations:


  • Population covered by 3G signal:


  • Population covered by 4G signal:


  • Country level investment per subscriber:


Usage – Colombia

  • Average revenue per user (Blended ARPU):


  • Facebook users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile Data traffic per active SIM:


  • M2M connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Minutes of Use per active SIM:


Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map

The information below is part of the Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map (DEEM) and displays up-to-date resources on digital development interventions and the digital ecosystem for Colombia. Click here to explore the full tool.

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