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Improving IP Connectivity in the Least Developed Countries
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are not a luxury, but are a critical factor in opening the door to knowledge, wealth and power. The divide between digitized and non-digitized countries, defined as the "digital divide", is the result of a lack of infrastructure, unfavourable regulatory environment, pricing and market structure, and is threatening to exacerbate the existing social and economic inequalities between countries and communities. The cost of inaction is therefore greater than ever before.

To break this "vicious circle" and address the digital divide problem, several initiatives have been developed at the international level. The Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force), whose effort is complemented by the UN ICT Task Force, has identified several possible actions to achieve sustainable ICT development in poorer economies, and has stressed the necessity to "improve connectivity, increase [ICT] access and lower costs".

The International Telecommunication Union is taking the lead on this particular objective and proposes a project to provide low-cost Internet connectivity to LDCs through the utilization of flexible, less expensive and simple technology, such as VSATs, with the aim of engendering a "virtuous circle" which can help to reduce the digital divide among countries.


Least Developed Countries
Forty-nine countries, with a total population of about 670 million inhabitants, are currently designated by the United Nations as "least developed countries" (LDCs). The list of LDCs is reviewed every three years by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


Digital Divide
The majority of the world population is cut off from information and communication technologies: 70% of the world's poor live in rural areas, where access to ICTs is scarce, the international Internet bandwidth is not evenly distributed and a high percentage of the population in LDCs is illiterate. These disparities create a barrier between different sectors of the population, which affects the capacity to communicate. This barrier can today be defined as the "digital divide".


Connectivity, the basis for all Internet use and applications, is the possibility for an user on an electronic network to communicate with other networks and can be seen as a "digital route" linking different users. The width of this route is the bandwidth, i.e. the maximum amount of information (bit/s) that can be transmitted along a channel (data transmission rate). Limited or low-quality access to international Internet bandwidth is one of the major problems facing LDCs.


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Background information

Background Paper:

Improving IP connectivity in the Least Developed Countries (latest version: 20-02-2002)



In the framework of its New Initiatives Programme, the ITU organized an expert workshop on "Improving IP connectivity in LDCs". The workshop was held at ITU headquarters in Geneva from the 11-12 April 2002. 

Agenda (pdf format

Chair's Report (pdf format)


IP Connectivity in the Least Developed Countries, T. Kelly, ITU (PowerPoint)

Improving IP Connectivity in LDCs, background study presentation, C. Sarrocco, ITU (PowerPoint)

Internet Connectivity in LDCs, B. Abramson, Canada (PowerPoint) (.pdf)

The Cost of Internet Access in Developing Countries, C. Milne, Antelope Consulting, UK (PowerPoint)

Gilat Satellite Services, Y. Tordjman, Gilat, France (PowerPoint)

Regulatory Barriers to Satellite-Based Services, M. Jarrold, Global VSAT Forum, UK (PowerPoint)

Mixed Media in the LDCs, M. Minges, ITU (PowerPoint)

Satellite and VSAT: Innovative Uses for Rural Telephony and Internet Development, S. Moroney, AITEC Africa (Word document)

UN ICT Task Force, Working Group N.5 "Low cost Connectivity and Access"

DOT Force, Working Group N.2 "Improve Connectivity, increase access, and lower costs"

InfoDev - The Information for Development Program 


Other Activities of the New Initiatives Programme
More information on the ITU New Initiatives Programme



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