Interview with Wilson Peres, Senior Economic Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). January 2015

ECLAC, the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean, supports the development of public policies in the Region and can provide a regional, multi-sectorial overview of different issues. At Cloudscape Brazil ECLAC presented a diagnosis and recommendations regarding the development of cloud computing in the ECALAC region. A panel of international experts gave some insights and practical tips on privacy, security, contractual and data protection issues, which are bound to remain hot topics for both Brazil and Europe in the foreseeable future.

Wilson Peres, Senior Economic Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), took part in the discussion presenting the ECLAC vision.

According to your experience, what are the most important challenges slowing down cloud adoption in Brazil and in the whole Latin American context?

According to ECLAC, the slow speed in the adoption of cloud computing in the region is hindering economic growth, not only consumer welfare. Large manufacturing corporations are experiencing the positive effects of cloud based business models and the rise of big data, while SMEs could expand much faster if cloud computing access is improved and costs, reduced by fostering broadband deployment. But at the same time, high taxation, limited bandwidth, high energy pricing and lack of data protection are slowing down cloud adoption.

A recent report by the UN Secretary-General's Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development "A World that Counts" indicates that we face two global challenges: making visible entire groups of people and key issues that remain invisible to traditional data (e.g., marginalized indigenous population and slum dwellers), and inequality, including the gaps between those who do and those who do not know what they need to know to make their own decisions. The report concludes with a call for action highlighting the need to undertake joint efforts by governments, business and civil society organizations.

What are the latest outcomes of the EU-ECLAC working group? Is there any recommendation that the group could give to the next phase of EU-BR cooperation in ICT (2016-2020)?

Cloud computing is fundamental for reducing the costs of providing services and capital expenditure. It helps new companies, especially small ones, because they need to invest less on equipment during start-up phases. Recent estimates for the European Union, the United States and Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, show that the mass use of cloud computing could help to create tens of thousands of SMEs, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs. The EU-ECLAC working group on cloud computing was created to propose policy recommendation aimed fostering cloud computing as an engine for sustainable economic growth, innovation and cost-efficient public services.

In the second half of 2014, the working group prepared a paper on the main challenges cloud computing development faces in Latin America and Europe, underlining actions that might foster a closer cooperation between both region. More precisely, the paper analyses issues related to cloud infrastructure, the promotion of new policies and financing schemes, the cloud as an instrument for SMEs development, and standardization.

What are the main challenges the Working Group identified related to cloud infrastructure development and standardization?

The paper presents the current situation and proposes actions in the fields of incentives for fixed and mobile broadband deployment; updating policies and regulation frameworks to new markets trends; public investment in fixed networks in access, backhaul or transmission where they are not profitable; public-private actions to foster infrastructure deployment; spectrum management; incentives for the attraction of large regional data centres, and new connections between Europe and Latin America (submarine cables, satellites, etc.).

As we know standardization is an important issue for both regions to which Europe pays particular attention. The working groups focused its efforts on data protection and the development of a possible EU-ECLAC common approach, the voluntary adoption of contracts and service level agreements as way to ensure consumer protection, and policies to foster data security and portability.

Wilson Peres is a Senior Economic Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). He has been a consultant to the OECD, the OAS and the Mexican Government, as well as a visiting research fellow and lecturer at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and professor at the CIDE in Mexico City. He published widely on industrial policy, firm strategy and ICT in Latin America. His current research interests are oriented towards industrial policy and big data. His most recent publications include Broadband in Latin America: Beyond Connectivity (ECLAC-DIRSI, 2013) and “Big data and open data as sustainability tools” (ECLAC, 2014).