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by Onno W. Purbo, Chin Saik Yoon, Samudra Haque, Keis
Asia Pacific is a profound paradox: it encompasses the most technologically advanced societies as well as the least connected communities in the world. But the region is often better known internationally as a powerhouse in computer hardware manufacturing, and a low-cost base for outsourced IT services, than for the challenges that it has to struggle with to make ICT work for its people. This chapter will focus on these challenges rather than its better-known successes. Much of the widely publicised successes are confined to a relatively small number of developed or nearly developed countries. The other nations are in various stages of economic development and must deal with all the daunting access and technological issues the rest of the developing world faces. Additionally, the majority of the people in Asia Pacific, rich and poor, at present have to navigate the Internet in a script and language that is largely foreign to them. This is a major impediment considering that the region is home to the largest number of cultural and linguistic groups in the world and the majority of their languages are not supported by existing technological systems. Compounding this challenge is the low literacy rate found in many Asian countries.