Colombia - Country Commercial Guide
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-11-08

Overview

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) market in Colombia contracted 8.6 percent in 2020. This was primarily due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business investment, household consumption, and the peso depreciation affecting hardware and software affordability in local currency. Nonetheless, Colombia’s ICT market is expected to experience moderate growth beginning in 2022, thanks to the momentum for digitization and cloud adoption generated by the pandemic.

Although the economic recovery could experience delays related to in-country vaccine availability, virus variants, and the economic impact in consumption and investment, the ICT sector presents opportunities for U.S. companies able to offer products and services the Colombian market needs to advance with connectivity and ICT services.

Colombia’s ICT Market Value

 

2019

2020

2021 (est.)

2022 (est.)

Market Value

7.39

6.67

7.46

8.06

Units: USD billions
Source: Fitch Solutions

The ICT hardware industry in Colombia is small, and the market relies on imports, while the software and services industry emerged as an important regional nearshoring center.  Fitch Solutions forecasts an ICT market growth of 12 percent in 2021 driven by business and consumer sentiment, when global vaccination efforts lead to a reduction in uncertainty and more robust external demand. This will unlock higher investment budgets in the private sector as the basis for an upturn in the software and services segment. The local industry in Colombia has numerous software developers, some of them targeting regional expansion. Local software firms have strengths in financial applications, digital animation, and mobile and web applications.

On July 25, 2019, Colombia passed the ICT Sector Modernization Law (Law 1978 of 2019). The Law pursues the reduction of the digital gap in Colombia. It intends to boost the ICT sector, allowing current and new companies to develop innovative projects connected with ICT services, improve access to those services, enable progress and modernization, and implement new technologies.

Colombian International Trade in ICT Equipment

ICT equipment Imports

 

2018

2019

2020

Total

 

1,064

1,143

1,197

China

 

747

773

912

Mexico

 

135

189

135

United States

 

56

54

39

(Harmonized System Code HS8471: automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers; machines for transcribing and processing coded data)

Source: Global Trade Atlas, in millions USD

Colombia’s total imports of ICT equipment (Harmonized System Code HS8471) amounted to USD 1,197 million in 2020, a 4.73 percent increase compared to 2019. Of this total, 76 percent of imports (USD 912 million) came from China, followed by Mexico at 11 percent (USD 135 million), and the United States at 3 percent (USD 39 million). China increased imports by 18 percent compared to 2019, with Mexico decreasing 28 percent and the U.S. decreasing 28 percent.  China was the primary source of imports for most product categories; around 97 percent of notebook and tablet imports come from China, except server and storage equipment, where there was a higher share from Mexico and the United States.

U.S. ICT Services exports and imports to Colombia

Exports of services

2018

2019 

2020

Telecommunications, computer, and information services

899

718

751

Computer services

(D)

293

359

Computer software, including end-user licenses and customization

364

238

272

Cloud computing and data storage services

38

47

74

Other computer services

(D)

9

13

 

Imports of services

2018

2019 

2020

Telecommunications, computer, and information services

103

90

94

Computer services

36

(D)

27

 Computer software, including end-user licenses and customization

7

5

5

Cloud computing and data storage services

5

(D)

(*)

Other computer services

24

26

21

(*) Transactions between zero and +/- $500,000

(D) Suppressed to avoid the disclosure of data of individual companies

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, in millions USD

Leading Sub-Sectors

Best prospects for ICT sector investment include digitization, cyber security, and blockchain solutions.

Cloud Computing Services: increase data center capacity, the rollout of more services by cloud vendors, and platform-as-a-service adoption from enterprises.

Servers and Storage: data center hardware demand by telecoms operators, cloud, and content firms.

Data Hosting and Processing Services: driven by migrations to cloud systems and the growth in demand for online video and gaming.

Opportunities

The ICT sector in Colombia is expected to recover in 2021 and continue to grow in 2022. The Colombian government’s economic recovery plan from the COVID-19 pandemic looks to boost the ICT industry. The adoption of cloud services will be the most significant driver of ICT market development in Colombia over the medium term. Promising prospects are developing for U.S. companies to take advantage of the benefits derived from the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.

Opportunities for U.S. companies will be driven by increased connectivity and affordability of equipment, multi-sector economic growth, and government programs for institutional and regional modernization. There is demand in Colombia for ICT investments and services that boost efficiency and increase flexibility in sectors such as financial services, including digitization and platforms for payments and banking, fraud detection, cybersecurity, and blockchain solutions.

The Colombian Ministry of Information Technologies and Communication (MinTIC) continues to focus on closing the connectivity gap between urban and rural areas through various plans, including the ongoing Digital Centers project, which guarantees the free provision of Internet service in 10,000 rural and remote communities in the country until at least 2030 and the ongoing Connected Homes program which aims to improve the quality of life of low-income households through access, use, and adoption of technology.

Colombia has been working on 5G wireless telecommunications networks. MinTIC published its “Plan 5G” in December 2019, allowing non-commercial 5G pilot projects since 2020. Tender opportunities can be found on MinTIC’s website.

Telecommunications

MinTIC has consolidated Internet access and ICT for the majority of Colombians in urban areas. There were 40.95 million Internet connections in the first quarter of 2021, 8.05 million through fixed internet access and 32.9 million through mobile connections (according to the latest bulletin published by MinTIC in July 2021), including ongoing projects to provide internet access to communities in Colombia. The most used technology is 4G with 76.6 percent, followed by 3G with 20.4 percent and 2G with three percent.

Trial 5G services were launched by Claro, Movistar, and Tigo in May 2020 using 3G/4G frequencies and part of the 3.5GHz spectrum assigned for piloting purposes. On May 12, 2021, Millicom announced incorporating Open RAN technology into its 4G network expansion in Colombia.  According to Fitch Solutions, by the end of the forecasted period in 2030, 4G will remain the most widely used technology in Colombia during the upcoming years, making greater use of third-party cloud and infrastructure providers to help meet the demand for connectivity. 

As of late August 2021, MinTIC has yet to confirm the date of the next spectrum auction, which will be the first to include bands for 5G use, such as the 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz bands.  5G will not see rapid uptake in Colombia due to high costs and the lack of locally relevant use cases.

Regarding regulations, MinTIC is responsible for monitoring and controlling the sector, except in subjects related to user protection and anti-competitive practices, which is the responsibility of the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC). The National Spectrum Agency (ANE) is the adviser in spectrum management, and the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) regulates the communications market under the criteria of regulatory improvement to protect the rights of citizens and to promote competition, investment, the quality of services, and information pluralism.

U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement

In May 2012, the U.S.- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) came into effect, including a chapter dealing specifically with ICT services. This chapter regulates access to the use of public telecommunication services. It stipulates a series of obligations pertaining to suppliers of public telecommunication services, including interconnection, resale of services, number portability, and dialing parity. It also defines the obligations for major suppliers of ICT services, such as treatment by major suppliers, competitive safeguards, resale of services, unbundling of network elements, interconnection provisions, co-location, provisioning and pricing of leased circuits services, and access to poles, ducts, conduits, and rights of way.  


The TPA telecommunications chapter also regulates the operation of submarine cable systems. It establishes conditions for the supply of information services, the operation of independent regulatory bodies and government-owned telecommunications suppliers, and the resolution of telecommunications disputes, among others. In general, the telecommunications chapter fosters transparency, equal treatment, and a clear framework for U.S. companies operating in Colombia and vice versa.

Trade events

ANDICOM

November 17 – 19, 2021

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

ANDICOM is the most important ICT industry event in Colombia and the region, where high-level public and private authorities meet in a marketing and sales environment and in a high-level academic environment. It has the support of multilateral entities such as the World Bank, IDB, ITU, IEEE, OAS, and national entities including the MinTIC and CRC, among others.

This annual event attracts around 3,000 participants, including key figures of the industry at business and governmental levels, to generate significant synergies that outline and, on many occasions, define the sector’s policies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ANDICOM will be held in November (instead of the usual September timeframe). Additionally, the organizers intend to restrict attendance to between 1,500 and 2,000 participants in 2021 to comply with biosecurity protocols.

Resources                                                                                                                                                                               

  • Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y Comunicaciones (MinTIC) (Spanish)
  • Comisión de Regulación de Comunicaciones (CRC) (Spanish)
  • Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo (MinCIT) (Spanish)
  • Federación Colombiana de la Industria de Software y TI (Fedesoft) (Spanish)
  • Cámara Colombiana de Informática y Telecomunicaciones (CCIT)  (Spanish)

For additional information, including market analysis, trade events, and the products and services that the U.S. Commercial Service can provide to help you succeed in the Colombian market, please contact:

U.S. Embassy Bogotá

Rafael Jiménez

ICT Commercial Specialist

Rafael.jimenez@trade.gov

+57 (601) 275-2764

https://www.trade.gov/colombia