10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Summary: Technological and Economic Recovery in Uruguay
On December 2, AS/COA hosted a two-part discussion with public and private sector experts that explored opportunities for a digital transformation in Uruguay.
Members of President Luis Lacalle Pou’s cabinet, leading officials, and technology experts spoke with AS/COA about the challenges of a digital transformation in Uruguay.
- Omar Paganini, Uruguayan Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining
- Doron Avni, Senior Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Russia, Google
- Guy Ben-Ishai, Head of Economic Policy Research, Google
- Mercedes Aramendía, President, Communications Regulatory Unity (URSEC), Uruguay
- Mónica Bottero, Director, InMujeres, Ministry of Social Development, Uruguay
- Hebert Paguas, Executive Director, AGESIC, Uruguay
- Eleonora Rabinovich, Head of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Google Southern Cone
- Ragnhild Melzi, Vice President of Public Policy Programs and Corporate Relations, Americas Society/Council of the Americas (moderator)
AS/COA Vice President Randy Melzi opened the two-part event, entitled "Technological and Economic Recovery in Uruguay," by congratulating Google for its study on digital sprinters and digital transformation (available in English; disponible en español). She stressed the fact that digital technologies play a key role in the economic recovery and the long-term development of the entire region.
Google's Doron Avni spoke next, highlighting that technology provides a lifeline for businesses in emerging markets during the pandemic. He emphasized the potential that Uruguay has to take advantage of the opportunities brought by technology and to adopt digital tools to keep a diverse number of sectors afloat.
In a conversation moderated by Melzi, Minister Omar Paganini and Guy Ben-Ishai of Google then discussed the role of technology in promoting economic recovery in the region and in Uruguay, in particular.
The Uruguayan government launched a 2025 Digital Agenda that seeks to promote connectivity nationwide, improve cybersecurity, and develop digital skills in the workplace. One of the key questions explored by the panel was how the private sector can collaborate with the government to reach these goals. Paganini stressed the importance of working together and said the government needs the private sector to collaborate in the process of Uruguay’s digitalization. He stated that there is still more work to do, but that he is proud of the milestones reached in recent years.
To move forward, one of the biggest challenges the country faces is connectivity. To that end, the government is launching 5G and fiber optic connectivity. The Minister said: “It’s a challenge to invest in infrastructure and connectivity, skills and training, and, most importantly, innovation. Digital transformation is not only about incorporating tools. In that sense, the challenge is deeper.” He also stated that large companies have an important role to play in training and innovation.
In his comments, Ben-Ishai introduced the key points of The Digital Sprinters report, in which Google proposes initiatives to foster digital transformation in order to guarantee a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery. He also focused on the key role played by the private sector and agreed that cooperation is the key to achieving the government’s goals.
Paganini closed the conversation by saying that Uruguay seeks to create an innovation hub that can help its partners around the world.
Google's Eleonora Rabinovich opened a second panel conversation by reinforcing the potential Uruguay has for digital transformation and highlighting the work done through partnerships in recent months, giving the examples of the Firminia submarine cable and the partnership with ANTEL to bring innovative cloud solutions to the local market.
Mercedes Aramendía of URSEC focused her remarks on the importance of digital infrastructure, the backbone on which Uruguay is going to build as it works to promote economic and social development. “In order to achieve the massification of services and their quality, we need this digital infrastructure throughout the country,” she stated.
In his remarks, Hebert Paguas of AGESIC pointed out that Uruguay has a 2025 digital agenda that sets out strategic priorities for digital development. The agenda will contribute to addressing the effects of the pandemic and to deepening the resilience capacity of the country. It proposes medium-term goals that will help with socioeconomic development: promoting public transparency and efficiency at a national scale with the public and private sectors working together.
Speaking on the topic of gender, Mónica Bottero of InMujeres pointed out the challenge related to the education of girls and women in STEM careers and the gap this generates in the labor market. InMujeres is working on public policies that can benefit these sectors and promote greater inclusion.
Before closing, Rabinovich made reference to the importance of public and private investment in digital infrastructure and the development of digital skills to support the country’s economic growth. She also commented on Google’s long-term commitment to help develop Uruguay's digital ecosystem.