Colombia is, in some ways, a microcosm of the digital world in 2020—highly connected urban centers with a growing technology industry, and vast, underserved rural areas with an immense need for investment and potential for innovation. In the coming years, a key challenge will be to extend the reach and quality of Colombia’s digital ecosystem without compromising inclusiveness, security, or democratic values. Against this backdrop, USAID’s Digital Strategy was launched in April 2020. It aims to achieve and sustain open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems that contribute to measurable development and humanitarian-assistance outcomes and increase self-reliance in USAID’s partner countries.

A critical product of the Digital Strategy is the Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA). The DECA is a decision-making tool to help USAID Missions, their partners, and other relevant stakeholders identify the opportunities, maximize the benefits, and manage the risks associated with digital technology. The goal is to help USAID’s partner countries along their journey to self-reliance through a better understanding of each country’s digital ecosystem. The DECA pilot phase began September 2019 through August 2020 and USAID/ Colombia was the flagship pilot. Though some USAID/Colombia projects were consulted, the goal of the DECA is to examine how Colombia’s digital ecosystem can be leveraged or strengthened, and not to evaluate the efficacy of existing program portfolios.

This report presents the findings and recommendations of the Colombia DECA pilot, which was conducted between November 2019 and February 2020. The pilot DECA included desk research, consultations with USAID/Colombia, and two weeks of in-country research. A total of 60 key informant interviews and three site visits were conducted with stakeholders from civil society, academia, the private and public sectors, and USAID/ Colombia technical offices.

The DECA pilot was guided by four key USAID/Colombia priorities: implementing the peace agreement, promoting licit economies, integrating Venezuelan migrants and Colombian returnees, and strengthening citizen security. These priorities informed stakeholder and site visit selection, interview question design, and recommendation framing.