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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Internet usage quadrupled in five years – Report

Global use of the Internet in the last five years witnessed quadrupled growth according to the latest World Bank report on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Development (IC4D).

Regional highlights by main topics made available to ITRealms Online, indicated that worldwide, “Internet use more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2005.”

In the Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the report said, is in the lead among developing regions, with 117 Internet users per 1,000 people in 2004 — four times as many as in 2000 and six to eight times as many as in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, the report said, the fastest growth of 370 per cent was witnessed in the Middle East and North Africa.

On the telecommunications Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) the report said that between 1999 and 2003, telecommunications projects accounted for 12 per cent of FDI in developing countries.

However, low-income countries received just six per cent of such investment.

While Latin America and the Caribbean attracted more than half of FDI in telecommunications, Eastern Europe and Central Asia received about a quarter.

These two regions, the report said, with mostly middle-income countries together received about 80 per cent of the overall worldwide FDI flows in telecommunications.

“Latin America and the Caribbean and Eastern Europe and Central Asia are the two regions where foreign capital has become a significant source of funding for the telecommunications sector,” the report edited by Christine Zhen-Wei Qiang said.

Also in South Asia, East Asia and Pacific, a substantial portion of telecommunications investments came from domestic investors, including large family groups that historically kept their investments within the region.

However, Brazil recorded $51 billion, thus becoming top single recipient of telecommunications FDI.

While India made impressive mark with $4.8 billion and Russia was close to $2 billion ranking 11th and 17th, respectively in the report.

The report further states that although the BRIC region, that is, (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, and China) economies together attracted 30 per cent of telecommunications FDI from 1990 through 2003. China had no foreign direct investments in telecommunications because of the restrictions it placed on FDI in this sector.

Whereas over 85 per cent of South-South telecommunications FDI flows during 1990–2003 stayed within the same geographic region. East Asia and Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa received South-South FDI only from investors in their respective regions.

On the other hand, Middle East and North African telecommunications FDI to Sub-Saharan Africa has included investments from Morocco and Tunisia to Mauritania, and from the Arab Republic of Egypt to 12 Sub-Saharan African countries.

On the telephone subscription rate, the report said that among developing regions, the telephone subscription rate was highest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where between 2000 and 2004 it more than doubled to 730 per 1,000 people. While growth, was the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the rate tripling despite low teledensity of 103 subscribers per 1,000 people.

On aggregate, there were more mobile than fixed phones, and about 70 per cent of the developing world’s population, most of which came from Sub-Saharan Africa have over 50 per cent, and live on the footprint of mobile phone service.

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