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Developing countries : outsiders or losers ?

While the United States is preparing to dominate electronic commerce and the French are selling wine to the Chinese, the outsiders situated in the countries of the developing world, especially in Africa, may be preparing a surprise. How can countries which suffers from chronic under-equipment in terms of telecommunications hope to be competitive ?

The answer is, by following the rules of electronic commerce, whilst countries like France persist in using outdated technology (especially Minitel). Whilst it might have represented an advance at one time, for the past four years or so Minitel has been an obstacle to the development of electronic commerce by Internet. The French were slightly more advanced in the notion of electronic transactions, but with hindsight, the continuing use of Minitel proved an advantage to American companies, since French businesses continued to concentrate on Minitel rather than invest in a commercial presence on Internet during this time.

The developing countries are way behind with their telecommunication infrastructures, but that also means that they have no tradition in this field (contrary to France) and that if they choose carefully, they can attract part of the electronic commerce manna. Starting with the assumption that the know-how of electronic commerce is still very badly understood in the so-called developed countries, and that it is possible to become an significant figure in this field by investing first of all in affordable equipment, the more intelligent developing countries can anticipate a staggering return on their investment : we have already seen how Internet can act as an efficient lever to stimulate sales of craft products. The tourist industry in the developing countries is very dependent on tour operators in the northern hemisphere who, because they occupy a strategic position, can control not only their customers but the distribution of big profits. Because Internet can reach future tourists direct, it offers a great opportunity for the countries which sell 'holidays in the sun' to redress the balance in their favour.

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If you enjoyed this site, we obviously share values: we have written it in 1999 !

We haven't updated it online as the vision still is more and more relevant: the more the internet matures, the closer it gets to our vision.

We still believe in innovation, creativity, rigour and results control.

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