Internet access drives development in Nigeria and Tanzania

According to the World Bank, improved access to internet coverage in Nigeria and Tanzania has led to a 7% reduction in extreme poverty.

African man wearing virtual reality headset

Improved access to internet coverage in Nigeria and Tanzania has significantly reduced extreme poverty, according to a new brief by the World Bank titled ‘Digital transformation drives development in Africa.’

The report states that after three or more years of exposure to internet coverage, extreme poverty declined by around 7% in these countries. Furthermore, internet access led to an increase of up to 8% in labour force participation and wage employment. Over the past five years, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a remarkable 115% increase in internet users, profoundly impacting economic growth, innovation, and job opportunities. The report highlights the positive contribution of internet access to these key areas.

However, several challenges hinder digital inclusivity. The affordability of mobile connectivity and the persistent digital gender gap are significant barriers. The cost of mobile internet remains high, although it is noted that Nigeria still has relatively affordable data compared to other countries. Women are 37% less likely to use mobile internet than men, indicating a notable digital gender gap.

Why does it matter?

The report emphasises the importance of closing the uptake gap in mobile internet usage to maximize Africa’s potential for inclusive growth. The low adoption rate of mobile internet is regarded as a lost opportunity for the continent. Efforts should be directed toward increasing digital access to create jobs and foster economic recovery, particularly in a highly digitised world.

The report also highlights the disparities in digital infrastructure coverage, access, and quality in Sub-Saharan Africa compared to other regions. The World Bank reiterated its commitment to digital development in Africa, with significant investments in Digital Development projects over the past decade. These investments are part of the Digital Economy for Africa initiative, which aims to digitally enable every individual, business, and government in Africa by 2030.