Magazine article The Futurist

Cyber Citizenship Gains in Developing World

Magazine article The Futurist

Cyber Citizenship Gains in Developing World

Article excerpt

A growing number of people in the developing world are going online, thanks to the proliferation of information infrastructure and to the efforts of governments and nongovernmental organizations. Now, farmers and villagers from Bangladesh to Ecuador have access to many of the same technologies their counterparts in more-advanced nations enjoy, such as cell phones, computers, and the Web.

However, fewer than 6% of Internet users currently reside in developing countries, which account for 84% of the world's population.

As more of the world's economic activity takes place digitally, the risk of leaving the information have-nots even further behind has grown, notes the U.N. Economic and Social Council. Innovations such as mobile phones that provide Internet access where wired services are unavailable are helping to overcome the technological obstacles, but there are also political, business, cultural, and legal obstacles.

"Business-to-consumer electronic commerce, for example, involves transactions conducted using credit facilities over the Internet," the Council notes. "But in many countries, credit cards are rare, upfront cash payments are popular even with large-scale enterprises, face-to-face relations and bargaining are essential to doing business, and the local language is rarely found and difficult to use on the Internet. …

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