Information and communication technology (ICT) can be a major force in helping poor countries reduce poverty, according to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

“ICT can make an important development impact because it can overcome barriers of social, economic and geographical isolation, increase access to information and education, and enable poor people to take part in more of the decisions that affect their lives,” the report noted.

However, the digital divide – the gap between those who have access and the ability to use ICT, and those who do not – remains enormous, UNDP reported.

For example:

– The total Internet bandwidth in Africa is equal to that in the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo

– The total Internet bandwidth in all of Latin America is equal to that in Seoul, South Korea

– Developed countries (those which belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and

Development) are home to 80 percent of the world’s Internet users

– As a proportion of monthly income, Internet access in the U.S. is 250 times cheaper than in Nepal, and 50 times cheaper than in Sri Lanka.

– In the U.S., 54.3 per cent of citizens use the Internet, compared to a global average of 6.7 per cent. In the Indian subcontinent, the proportion is 0.4 per cent.