Microsoft chairman Bill Gates predicted Latin
American spending on Web commerce would reach nearly $11 billion annually by 2003, driven by an Internet market that will have grown to approximately 30
million Latin American users during the same period. Speaking at Microsoft's Latin America Enterprise Solutions Conference in Miami, Gates said Microsoft considers Latin
America one of the world's most promising markets. Second only to Asia in the growth of information technology spending, Latin America sustained a five-year
annual growth rate of 42 percent in Internet services business and is expected to spend $1.6 billion for online advertising this year. "We are incredibly optimistic about the future of Latin America, because its countries are rapidly increasing their investment in the technologies and infrastructure
needed to connect businesses, governments and educational systems," Gates said.