Members of the world's G8 leading industrial nations have endorsed a nine-point, £10.6bn ($15bn) plan known as Dotforce to boost developing countries through information and communication technologies (ICTs).
The idea is to help those in poor countries gain access to the internet and to promote the use of ICT in reducing poverty. Its aims include improving connectivity, lowering costs, helping establish internet strategies, deploying IT in healthcare, offering development aid and encouraging entrepreneurs.
Supporters of the plan are looking to build on investment made by the World Bank in information infrastructure in the developing world, which is currently about £1.1bn ($1.5bn) annually, saying that it is important to limit the digital divide between the western world and poorer countries.
However, the gap is huge - 90 per cent of internet hosts are in high-income countries which contain only 16 per cent of the world's population. There are more internet hosts in New York City than in the whole of Africa, for instance.
There is also a huge gap in funding. The UK Government is spending £1bn to put its services online, let alone the huge sums invested by the private sector in each G8 country.
Ade Ajibulu, senior consultant at Analysys, told vnunet.com "Spreading that cost over the world's developing countries, while not insignificant, can only provide basic connectivity. But when you're facing such a huge problem, such a huge disparity of income, than taking the first steps is important."
Critics of the plan say it misses the point, claiming that people in the poorest parts of the world need water far more than a computer.
But its supporters maintain that there is no trade off between ICT and other development needs, and that ICT makes a real difference to health, education and the empowerment of citizens in developing countries.
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