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Can technology drive the engine of growth in Central America?
What challenges are Central American countries facingin today’s global market? What is the role of technological innovation in the sustainable development and creation of opportunities in Central America? These are some of the questions Dr. Roberto Bruno tackles in the seminar Technological Innovation and Sustainable Development: Opportunities in Central America.

Even though the economy in Central America has improved considerably in recent years, the gap between the rich and poor is increasing drastically. Unfortunately, it is not only happening internally, but also regionally. Central American countries are falling behind others in all areas, especially in technology and development. According to the Bank’s studies, from the 1950s to 1990s Central Americans have experienced a decrease in quality of life.

Every year, millions of dollars are invested in Central American countries to improve socio-economic conditions. However, Dr. Bruno states that “most programs in the region have –effectively- served only as instant cures, short-term solutions to the myriad and deep social and economic problems, increasing the development gap with the industrialized world.” He is not suggesting an end to these kinds of projects, rather a redirection of policy to a more “homogeneous distribution of opportunities to all” through better utilization of technology.

“What is missing in Central America’s sustainable development plan?” he asks. Countries should focus on growth, not just on buying technology to increase profit. Countries must be innovative in their use of technology. Central America should learn from South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. These countries showed the world that the best way to develop is by investing in technology in order to understand and improve it. By doing so, they are improving the whole productivity system and being more effective.

Could the Bank be doing more to feed the machine of development in Central America? Dr. Bruno suggests the Bank’s strategy should be “to keep the engine of growth running through programs that stimulate the strengthening of technological and innovation capability, and project execution” by “changing the alluring but elusive vision of sustainable development for the hard but pragmatic road towards industrialization.” This way, the Bank would be addressing the program in the long run, not only offering a short-term solution.