UN Report: open source software key to bridging digital divide

In the third edition of its E-Commerce and Development Report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development identified the implications of the growth of the digital economy for developing countries.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its 228-pages "E-Commerce and Development Report 2003" on 20 November 2003. The report highlights opportunities and problems as regards the growth of the Internet and the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) for the developing countries. The report is also designed to contribute to the debates at the World Summit on the Information Society which will take place in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003.

Key messages of the 2003 annual report are as follows:

  • the gap between developed and developing countries (the 'digital divide') in the use of ICT remains wide;
  • around 50 per cent of all email messages in circulation by the end of 2003 could be unsolicited emails (commonly known as spam), costing the world more than 17.5 billion euro in wasted technical resources;
  • the use of free and open-source software offers many benefits to developing countries and can be "a means of bridging the digital divide";
  • business process outsourcing from developed to developing countries such as India, Brazil, China and others is a growing market and offers large economic opportunities for developing countries;
  • the Internet can be used by developing countries to market their agricultural exports;
  • the developing countries should also promote and facilitate online dispute resolution as an alternative to national litigation.

 

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