Information and communications technologies have considerable potential to promote development and economic growth. They can foster innovation and improve productivity. They can reduce transaction costs and make available, in mere seconds, the rich store of global knowledge. In the hands of developing countries, and especially small and medium-sized enterprises, the use of ICTs can bring impressive gains in employment, gender equality and standards of living.
The E-commerce and Development Report 2004 is intended to provide policy-makers and practitioners with information and analysis to better assess the implications of the growing role of ICTs in economic development.
The Report starts with a review of recent trends and developments in the area of ICT, e-commerce and economic development, including some aspects of ongoing international discussions on matters such as Internet governance. It also identifies areas where the application of ICT can have an impact on the performance of developing countries´ enterprises and economies. Taking into account the opportunities that developing countries face in adopting e-commerce and ICT, the report focuses on use of ICT by the SMEs of developing countries and policies and strategies for the development of a national ICT sector. Specific discussions on e-commerce and ICT in developing countries focus on selected topics such as the use of digital and Internet technologies in the creative industries, in particular in the music industry, and their application to higher online learning. As e-commerce is not the sole domain of private business, the report also looks at government e-commerce applications in e-procurement. Finally, the report looks at the legal issues and challenges of data privacy and its role as a trust-building mechanism for information society development.