The World Bank has estimated that improved access to internet coverage over three years led to a seven per cent reduction in extreme poverty in Nigeria and Tanzania.
This was disclosed in a new brief titled, “Digital transformation drives development in Africa,” noting that the exposure has also led to an increase of 8 per cent in labour force participation and wage employment.
The World Bank said, “In 2023, a World Bank flagship report found that in Nigeria and Tanzania, extreme poverty declined by about seven per cent after three or more years of exposure to internet coverage, while labour force participation and wage employment increased by up to eight per cent.”
In the brief, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa, Andrew Dabalen, was quoted as saying, “The minimal usage of mobile internet is a lost opportunity for inclusive growth in Africa. Closing the uptake gap would increase the continent’s potential to create jobs for its growing population and boost economic recovery in a highly digitalised world.”
The brief further highlights that over the past five years (2016-2021), sub-Saharan Africa experienced an extraordinary 115 per cent increase in internet users, a change that has been instrumental in spurring economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating job opportunities.
The brief adds, “The region’s digital infrastructure coverage, access, and quality still lag other regions. At the end of 2021, while 84 per cent of people in SSA lived in areas where 3G service was available, and 63 per cent had access to 4G mobile coverage, only 22 per cent were using mobile internet services.
“The gap between coverage and usage is similarly large for broadband, with 61 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa living within the broadband range but not using it.”
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, recently noted that the cost of data in Nigeria was still one of the cheapest in the world, but lamented that many operators are not willing to lay fibre in many parts of the countries outside the major cities because it would be unprofitable.