Colombia is the third-largest country in Latin America by population and the fourth by GDP. The CIA World Factbook estimated the country had a population of nearly 46.3 million in July 2014 with a median age of 28.9 years—with a considerable portion in the 25-to-54 age bracket (41.6%). The next age group, children between 0 and 14 years old, represented only 25.3% of the population.
Digitally, the country ranks at a similar level, depending on the particular metric, methodology and definitions, and research firm. According to GlobalCollect and Newzoo, Colombia had the third-largest internet user base in Latin America last year, with 31.6 million, trailing only Brazil (118.6 million) and Mexico (56.1 million). While the sheer size of their populations will keep the two Latin American giants solidly in their positions, Colombia was well ahead of the other historical regional giant, Argentina (27.0 million).
GlobalCollect and Newzoo found that Colombia tied for second with Argentina for internet user penetration in 2014, with 64.6% of their populations already online. That list was topped by Chile, at 77.6%. Brazil and Mexico scored much lower uptake rates of 58.7% and 45.3%, respectively.
A different measure, this one from comScore in August 2014, placed Colombia in fourth place for internet users in Latin America, with 13.3 million internet users. This account saw Colombia trailing Argentina by more than 5 million, but it also showed it registered the third-fastest-growing rate, with a 12.9% improvement year over year. It is important to note, however, that the comScore measuring only included users 15 and older and excluded mobile devices.
Mobile devices are at the core of “Vive Digital Colombia,” a program overseen by Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones (MinTIC) that leverages mobile connectivity to achieve its four-year goal of “widespread adoption of internet and the development of a nationwide digital ecosystem.”
Indeed, comScore found that mobile phone internet traffic in Colombia stood at 16.5%—over 19% when including tablets and other noncomputer traffic—in August 2014. The country was second only to the 18.0% mobile phone share of overall internet traffic in Mexico.
Looking forward, eMarketer estimates that Colombia will boast 28.6 million web users in 2015, up from 26.5 million last year. While Colombia ranks fourth behind Argentina in absolute terms for internet users, the former is expected to grow at a faster pace and will gradually close the gap, snatching third place by 2018, when 31.3 million individuals of any age will use the internet from any location via any device at least once per month in the country.
In a way, Colombia is already the third most digitally developed nation—for which we produce individual estimates—in Latin America. When measured by overall penetration, the country reached a 57.3% rate in 2014, coming only behind Chile (66.7%) and Argentina (63.0%).