The United Nations reports that while the digital divide between rich and poor countries is still large it's shrinking as mobile phones and Internet become more available:
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said mobile phone subscribers have almost tripled in developing countries over the past five years, and now make up some 58 percent of mobile subscribers worldwide.
"In Africa, where the increase in terms of the number of mobile phone subscribers and penetration has been greatest, this technology can improve the economic life of the population as a whole," it said.
The report said mobile phones are the main communication tool for small businesses in developing countries, reducing costs, and increasing the speed of transactions.
"Mobile telephony provides market information for, and improves the earnings of, various communities, such as the fishermen of Kerala, the farmers of Rajasthan, the rural communities in Uganda, and the small vendors in South Africa, Senegal, and Kenya," it said.
Internet use and penetration continue to increase worldwide, but developed countries still account for the majority of Internet users and have the highest penetration.
"In 2002, Internet availability in developed countries was 10 times higher than in developing countries; in 2006, it was 6 times higher," the report said.