Mobile telephony is the most widely spread ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in the developing world. The nuber of subscribers in these countries has tripled during the last five years. Nowadays, they represent 58% of the world´s mobile telephony subscribers.
This is one of the conclusions of the Information Economy Report 2007-2008, delivered at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The remarkable rise in the use of mobile phones could act as a "digital bridge" that would help many countries reduce the connectivity gap. In Africa, a continent where the increase in the number of subscribers and in the market penetration rate for mobile telephony has been the biggest, this technology can improve the populations´s economy as a whole.
Mobile devices are the main communication tool for many business people. The mobile phone is the ICT that they use most often in order to communicate with their clients and to place orders with providers.
With one device alone, someone can start a business and improve their prospects.
Moreover, mobile trading (transactions via wireless mobile devices) of digital products is taking off in most of developing countries and is expected to carry on increasing.
A different section of the report deals with the increasing use of the computer networks, not only with regard to the number of subscribers, but also to the market penetration. Still, the majority of users is found in developed economies, which have the highest penetration rates; however, the rest of the economies are slowly progressing.
In 2002, the Internet was accessed in developed countries ten times more that in poor countries. In 2006, the difference was reduced to "only" six times.
During these last years, the number of bandwidth subscribers has increased very quickly all over the world. However, this rise has not been equal everywhere: comparing the figures with those in 2002, developed countries increased the size of the digital gap with respect to developing countries.
How to start having presence in the market
"If developing countries want to improve their competitiveness in globalised markets, they must be able to have a command of innovation and knowledge through the new Internet tools and through Information Technology", explained Angel Gonzalez, UNCTAD electronic transactions expert.
Gonzalez pointed out that the following are some of the measurements that should be adopted in order to optimize the technolgy transfer to underdeveloped countries: increase flexibility of intellectual property rights; use free access systems (so that knowledge can be freely used); develop association agreements internationally in order to generate and share information; finally, provide global support to innovation of underdeveloped countries.
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