By: Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico City In the current era of innovation, known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the latest technologies are completely transforming economic sectors at an impressive rate. This is, rightly, the subject of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that will be held this week in Davos, Switzerland. In the following years, the scope and pace of innovation will transform the way we produce, distribute and consume. To maximize its benefits, we must take measures that allow us to prepare our economies and societies, with special emphasis on three key areas: education, business environment and connectivity.

Human capital is essential to the development of an economy and the Mexican economy is no exception. That is why my government has taken important steps to improve education at all levels.

For example, we recently launched the National Educational Infrastructure Certificates, private investment vehicles that will allow us to channel approximately three billion dollars to upgrade primary school facilities over the next three years. Moreover, in the current school year, we have delivered tablets to nearly half of the 2.3 million fifth graders.

We are also working to enable the present and future generations to have the necessary skills to thrive in a constantly changing labor market. Last year, more than 110,000 students in Mexico graduated in areas such as engineering, manufacturing and construction-a much higher figure than in most developed countries, including France, Germany and the UK [1].

To consolidate this progress, we are increasing public investment in science and technology, aimed at universities and public research centers across the country. In the past three years alone, the number of academics in our National Research System has increased by 26% and we have almost doubled public spending on research, innovation and development. Recognizing the great importance of the links between industry, academia and government, we have also increased the number of Technology Transfer Centers to facilitate the development of new products and businesses in areas such as biotechnology, energy and information technologies.

At the same time, we are working hard to improve the business environment. We have taken firm steps to maintain macroeconomic stability. The Bank of Mexico has established an independent monetary policy that ensures price stability and low inflation. In fact, in November 2015, the annual inflation rate was 2.21%, the lowest in the history of Mexico. Moreover, our debt remains diversified and low. In 2015, the relationship between debt and gross domestic product remained at 46.9%, well below the average for Latin America and the Caribbean of 55.6% - and is expected to reach 47.8% in 2016.

We also promoted Energy Reform, which has made it possible to reduce electricity costs, eliminate monthly increases in gasoline prices and increase the number of gas pipelines across the country, thus boosting our competitiveness. For the first time in decades, all activities in the energy sector have been opened up to the private sector-a strategy that will attract an estimated 12 thousand 600 million dollars every year.

Likewise, by allowing more foreign investment in the telecommunications sector, we have reduced the rates of telephone service, both fixed and mobile, improving its quality and coverage.

Since micro, small and medium enterprises are the main economic engine of Mexico, we are incorporating digital tools to expedite the opening of new businesses, while facilitating entrepreneurs’ access to credit from commercial banks. In this regard, the Young Credit Program offers loans of up to $9,000; and for those looking to build their business, this amount could increase to $150,000.

The third key factor for preparing our economy, as we approach the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is connectivity. Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that has formally recognized the right of access to broadband Internet. So far during this administration, we have connected 65,000 public spaces such as schools and libraries. This helps to achieve our goal of enabling 70% of households and 85% of micro, small and medium businesses to have access to high speed Internet.

However, connectivity is not only digital, physical infrastructure is also essential. Mexico is currently a manufacturing powerhouse and one of the leading exporters of flat screens, vehicles, auto parts, computers and cell phones. State-of-the-art infrastructure will enable us to add value and diversify our export industries.

We are therefore channeling more than $460 billion USD for the construction and modernization of thousands of kilometers of roads and highways, as well as to expand and improve our mass transit networks. Other large-scale projects include the new Mexico City International Airport and the development of port projects to nearly double our capacity in the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. In the long term, we will convert Mexico into a world-class logistics platform.

Mexico remains committed to promoting free trade, a powerful engine of growth. In the past three years, we have expanded our network of trade agreements with the Pacific Alliance and more recently the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As a result, we will have a total of 13 agreements that provide preferential access to 52 countries, with a potential market of 300 billion consumers.

My government has taken strategic steps to strengthen the Mexican economy and address the major challenges of the future, such as an increasing demand for specialized professionals in a wide range of areas of expertise, and an urgent need to strengthen connectivity, especially in more remote rural areas (where 9% of Mexicans live). We must provide the necessary tools for every Mexican and every business to be able to seize the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and ensure that future generations can also develop their full potential in an increasingly changing world.

[1] http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/09/which-country-most-engineering-manufacturing-and-construction-graduates/