The Private Competitiveness Council of the University of Rosario measured the competitiveness of the country’s 23 cities using 97 indicators grouped into ‘pillars’ such as sustainability, health, infrastructure and business.
Bogota, Medellin and Manizales topped the table, achieving scores of 7.41, 7.00 and 6.14 out of 10 respectively.
Colombia’s urban competitiveness index
Source: Universidad del Rosario
While the results are not directly comparable to those of 2018 due to a change in methodology, the results are broadly consistent with those of previous years in reflecting the clear prominence of Bogota and Medellin.
In regards to infrastructure, Cali came in third behind Bogota and Medellin, on account of its good sewage networks, natural gas resources and use of aqueducts. Bogota took its customary first place position with its fast internet and good air travel links with the rest of the country.
Bucaramanga’s impressive showing was capped off by topping the environmental rankings, achieving a score of 7.16 as opposed to Bogota’s 7.04 and Medellin’s 5.71.
Their water quality scored 9.86 out of 10, placing them in third, and they topped the nationwide rankings for companies with ISO 14001 certification- a reward given to companies with exceptional environmental practices.
Medellin’s score, while significantly lower, saw a huge improvement on their part with a one position rise from 2018 and a nationwide high in environmental risk management, with a score of 7.38/10.
Business and finance
Bogota unsurprisingly topped the table in this respect, receiving scores of 8.32 in finances and a perfect 10 for global participation in the labor market.
This index saw Bucaramanga and Pasto come in 2,d and 3rd respectively, with the small western town of Pereira ranked as the easiest place to open a business and obtain a construction license.
In higher education and apprenticeship accessibility, Medellin topped the table with perfect 10 scores in both fields, but ranked far lower in primary and secondary education.
The three best scores in this regard were held by Neiva- which rose 6 places from 2018- Popayan and Bucaramanga.
However, the education statistics offer an insight into the disparities in educational provision and society as a whole, with the city of Riohacha on the Caribbean coast scoring an abject 1.58 for basic and secondary education.
Room for improvement
Despite promising results and overall progress, some areas of the country are very much lagging behind. The bottom three cities- Riohacha (north), Florencia (southwest) and Quibdo (west) achieved overall scores of just 3.23, 3.02 and 2.86 overall respectively.
These results are even more concerning considering the gap between these and the next-highest placed city, Sincelejo, which scores 4.25.
In a press conference, the investigative team drew attention to these disparities, arguing that the Colombian government must close the gap between major metropolitan centers and more remote areas, such as these places, if Colombia is to meet its target of reaching the top three most competitive economies in Latin America by 2030.