5. Technology Changes the Developing World

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In recent years, rapid technological progress has helped raise income and alleviate poverty in developing countries. The spread of cell phones, computers and other technological innovations has generated economic growth while improving health care and agricultural production in developing nations. But these countries still have a long way to go to catch up to the rest of the world.

Rwandan traditional healer, Musa Kayairanga
Traditional healer Musa Kayairanga of Rwanda uses herbs and ointments to treat his patients, and over the years he has learned a lot about natural medicines. Now he is able to share this information with more people, thanks to the computer and the Internet. After learning how to use the computer at a rural telecenter, the 62-year old healer says he now exchanges e-mail with other herbal doctors as far away as Canada. "I have been exchanging experiences with them. And now I have improved my knowledge of herbs and plants to treat people," says Kayairanga. The Pace of Progress

This ability to communicate from such a remote region shows how technology is changing life in developing countries. "Technological progress is ultimately probably the most important driver of incomes, of growth in developing countries," says Andrew Burns, the lead economist at the World Bank and main author of a recent report on technology in developing nations. The study found that technology is spreading faster in emerging economies than in rich nations, even though the technology gap remains wide. It also found that technological progress has helped raise incomes in the developing world and reduced the share of people living in poverty from 29 percent in 1990 to 18 percent in 2004. According to Andrew Burns, "When we take a look at who are the good performers in terms of income growth, in terms of improving living standards, those are the countries that have the highest rate of technological progress. So for example, in East Asia and the Pacific, we see...
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