60% of the world’s citizens have access to mobile phones. This is according to a recently released UN report. Pakistan is mentioned as one of the fastest growing country for telecommunications.
The conclusion is that mobile phones help poor countries to improve their economy. That is a well established fact by now. However the more relevant question is how the governments can either support this growth or cause it to slowdown by a) excessive taxes b) poor regulation and c) policies which do not help with foreign investment and d) infrastructure issues. Of course political stability and lack of security is the overriding factor above all.
Overall the magnitude of the global digital divide remains unchanged between 2002 and 2007. Despite significant improvements in the developing world, the gap between the ICT haves and have-nots remains.
When dividing the world into four groups of countries based on different ICT levels, a slight decrease of the digital divide can be observed between countries in the “high” ICT group and those in the other groups. This could be due to an increase in mobile cellular penetration levels in many countries that are part of the lower ICT groups. On the other hand, results also show that the digital divide between countries with “upper” and those with “medium” and “low” ICT levels is increasing slightly. This suggests that as information societies become more mature, ICT levels flatten out. Less mature, but reasonably advanced information societies grow strongly, thereby leaving behind those at the lower end of the scale.
The Report also presents the latest, end-2008 figures for key ICT indicators. There has been a clear shift from fixed to mobile cellular telephony and by the end of 2008, there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines globally. Two thirds of those are now in the developing world compared with less than half in 2002.
The report notes that digital divide is still a issue to be resolved.