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  • A recent UNCTAD Report on 'e-commerce and development' brought out the startling fact that while computer penetration remains low at 0.7 per cent in India, mobile phones have registered a stunning record -- a contradictory phenomena in the spread of information economy. According to the 'Information Economy Report 2005' while the number of computers is increasing substantially in developing countries, particularly in some of the emerging markets, computer penetration remains very low. For example, in China it stands at 2.7 per cent, Brazil at 7.5 per cent and India at 0.7 per cent.

    Broadband, which plays a key role for enterprises to take full advantage of ICTs, is spreading quickly in developed countries and in a few Asian developing countries, whereas most other developing countries continue to have very low access rates.

    Mobile phones, on the other hand, experienced a phenomenal growth in 2003 and developing countries have taken over from developed countries in respect of absolute numbers of cellular subscribers, mainly owing to Asian developing countries, such as China and India.

    The Report also says that this makes mobile phones the only ICT indicator with regard to which developing countries have greater share than developed countries, although penetration rates are still very low (whereas they have reached 100 per cent in some developed countries).

    The main message of the Report is that small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries have a major opportunity to grow and compete internationally by using credit and working capital available rapidly through the Internet. However, to take advantage of these, nations must bring domestic laws and financial service systems up to modern standards for credit information, credit-risk assessment and transparency.

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