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Chile led Latin America in digital adoption during the first quarter of the year and, in the short term, could become the first regional country to overtake a European Union member in this respect, José Gamboa, an associate of Spanish IT consultancy everis, told press, citing a recent study.
The Information Society Index (ISI) - drawn up by everis and the IESE Business School of the Universidad de Navarra - showed that Chile scored 5.70 points, the highest ranking in the region, a 5.8% growth rate compared to the same quarter last year and close behind Portugal with 5.73.
The study measured both ICT use and the development of information society in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.
Chile reached 1,155 cell phones per 1,000 inhabitants, up 18% year-on-year. The number of computers reached 429 per 1,000 inhabitants, up 14% and putting Chile close to Spain with 433 computers per 1,000.
"Latin America is advancing steadily in reducing obstacles to accessing ICT," Gamboa said. "Today, we can safely say that Chile could be the first country in the region to surpass a member of the European Union."
Online retail sales in Chile rose 56.5% over 1Q10 to US$142 per capita per year - nearly three times the Latin American average of US$49.
Marcos Pueyrredon, president of the Latin American E-Commerce Institute (ILCE), said Latin America's e-commerce segment currently moves US$35bn per year.
Pueyrredon said the increase in internet access had boosted e-commerce use.
As regards development of the ISI, Chile registered the highest growth (5.4%) of the countries studied. The index measured components such as reduction in unemployment as a direct result of ICT growth.
During Q1, Latin America in general scored as average of 4.43 on the ISI, a new high and a 2.6% year-on-year growth rate.
Besides Chile, the scores were: Argentina at 4.68, Peru with 4.57, Mexico at 4.45, Brazil with 4.36 and Colombia at 4.30.
By contrast the EU and the US saw respective 0.5% and 0.1% decreases. In the EU the level of ICT use increased, but the information society score declined in all countries except Germany.
The US scored 8.22 points, the highest of all countries studied. The European scores were UK (8.18), Germany (8.02), Belgium (7.38), France (6.98), Italy (6.48), Spain (6.07), and Portugal (5.73).