Africa is known to have some of the poorest countries in the world. These countries not only lack proper living standards but are also suffering from a “digital lag” of 17 years, a new UN report said. The 2010 Information Economy report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) warned that even with current high growth rates it will be almost 2020 before the poorest countries achieve Internet usage rates that were offered in the richest counties by 2002.
Professor Richard Heeks of the University of Manchester who contributed heavily to the report said, “The companies need to work closely with the governments to eliminate this digital lag. We have to change our view of the world’s poor from one that sees them as passive consumers of ICTs, to one that sees them as producers of and innovators with the technology. This will mean creating an environment that recognises and scales up the technology adaptations and innovations, and the new technology-based business models, that are already arising within poor communities.”
The report said that bigger companies were investing at a slow pace due to fear of return on investments and projected profits. The report said that things were moving fast in developing countries. However there was some positive news which said that the mobile phone market was growing at fifty percent in some African countries with 3G to be rolled out at a slower pace.
A major concern is that the poor will spend 75% of their income on running a mobile. The services still remain expensive despite considerable demand.
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