Although most of the developed economies of the world are contributing hugely towards PC infrastructure and communications equipment in emerging nations, the lack of Internet connectivity remains the number one stumbling block in the further growth of these countries.

Addressing a recent convention of the China-India-Brazil-Africa (CIBA) Business Forum, a global business representative and regulation organisation, Atul Gupta, MD of Sahara, said that while the body represents half the world's population (3.5-billion), it reflects less than a quarter of total global Internet users (22,3%).
"The World Bank, nearly a decade ago, pointed out that poor countries and poor communities were falling behind more rapidly than ever before with the rapid development of information technologies," Gupta told delegates. "The so-called information superhighway was not going into the villages and slums which were without telephones, electricity or safe water.
"For poor people and communities, the promise of the new information age still remains remote," he adds. "So it is up to companies like ours to engage in partnerships with governments in the south to make this dream a reality.
"This also falls in line with the United Nations Millennium Declaration, particularly its reference to the need to ensure that the benefits of information and communication technology are available to all," says Gupta. "This declaration also stressed the role of public-private partnerships in addressing socio-economic challenges, including job creation and the reduction of poverty.
He told the gathering that companies such as Sahara have identified access to technology as one of the key functions of its corporate social responsibility program.
"The rationale behind this strategy is based on the principle that providing PCs alone will not meet urgent needs, specifically among rural communities," Gupta says. "However, connectivity with desktop PCs enables immediate interaction and facilitates communication. This can do much to alleviate problems."
The increase in popularity of mobile and wireless technology has been singled out by the Forum as offering substantial opportunity.
"PCs are growing, but mobile is growing faster," says Gupta. "Its popularity is reinforced by increased functionality and proliferation of product, high-quality solutions and data capability.
Gupta believes the CIBA Business Forum has a critical role to play in encouraging partnerships that will help drive initiatives going forward.
"We realise that if all countries are to benefit, we must define an inclusive, long-term vision and approach for the future – that is our philosophy and that is why we engage in public-private partnerships," Gupta says. "Providing greater access to technology, developing ICT skills and facilitating application of these skills is critical."