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E-minister Stephen Timms is to call on the communications industry to invest in developing countries to help bridge the global digital divide.

At an industry dinner this evening Mr Timms is expected to say that he would like to see more ICT businesses investing in overseas markets.

And while he acknowledges that such moves are not without risk, he is likely to say that when businesses do invest in these markets, they gain new sources of revenue growth, greater efficiency, and access to innovation.

It's been a busy day for Mr Timms. Earlier today he joined Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael to give local communities a slap on the back for their efforts to bring broadband to their areas.

Visiting Rother in East Sussex, the ministers said it was the Government's aim that "every community in the UK, irrespective of location, should have the opportunity to access affordable broadband from a competitive market".

Mr. Timms said: "Broadband has a great deal to offer to all communities across the UK - whether rural or urban. Government is committed to seeing everyone in the UK given the opportunity to enjoy the advantages new technology can bring.

"The level of enthusiasm we are seeing for these technologies among both businesses and consumers is great to see. The more this demand is demonstrated, the further broadband will spread, opening up access to everyone in every part of the UK."

Earlier this month a report by the Countryside Agency warned that lack of broadband in rural areas is creating a digital divide between town and country. ®

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