ESCAP concerns huge gap in internet access between rich and poor countries

November 20th, 2008 - 4:34 pm ICT by Bupha Ravirot  

A study by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) shows gap between rich and poor nations in the Asia Pacific region for internet access has widened.

A three days meeting started from Nov 19, held in Bangkok, participated by several ICT experts from governments, the academia, UN and other international agencies and the private sector, including from Microsoft.

In the meeting, the ESCAP revealed that there is a significant difference between high-income and low income of Asia Pacific countries in internet access.

High income countries like Malaysia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Singapore are top 5 countries with 55-80% of their populations having access to the Internet by 2007, be highest in the Asia Pacific region. While Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Tajikistan, Bangladesh and Cambodia art at the bottom five who have less than 1% of their population using the Internet while the average for region is 20 %.

In contrast, amount of mobile phone subscribers grown fastest in the poorest countries in the region. The least developed countries in the region as a group has seen their mobile phone users increased by close to 80 times.

The meeting is intended as a platform to discuss technical aspects of ICT development and solicit expert views on key issues such as problems with infrastructure which need to be addressed at the regional level.

The expert speakers are representatives from India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Malaysia, Japan, Russia, Nepal, and the Republic of Korea, as well as from ESCAP, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Telecommunication Union, United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization, Asian Development Bank, Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, and Microsoft.

The recommendations of the meeting will be presented to the member states of ESCAP at its Committee on ICT which will hold its session from 19 to 21 November in Bangkok .

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