The spread of mobile phones across the developing world has been extremely rapid in the past few years (e.g. 4X increase between 2001-2005 in Africa).
It was now well-established, said the report, that greater use of technology in businesses, schools and at home could raise standards of living and help people prosper.
In many developing nations the mobile phone had become the standard bearer for these changes, it said.
“In Africa, where the increase in terms of the number of mobile phone subscribers and penetration has been greatest, this technology can improve the economic life of the population as a whole,” it said.
In rural communities in Uganda, and the small vendors in South Africa, Senegal and Kenya mobile phones were helping traders get better prices, ensure less went to waste and sell goods faster.
The take up of mobiles was allowing developing nations to “leapfrog” some generations of technology such as fixed line telephones and reap more immediate rewards, said the report.
Greater use of computers in small businesses in countries such as Thailand made staff boost productive, it said. A study of Thai manufacturing firms showed that a 10% increase in computer literate staff produced a 3.5% productivity gain.
The developing world was also catching up in terms of net availability. In 2002, said UNCTAD, net availability was ten times higher in developing nations. In 2006, net availability was only six times higher.