In a groundbreaking revelation, the World Bank has unveiled a significant breakthrough in Nigeria’s battle against extreme poverty. According to the latest brief titled “Digital Transformation Drives Development in Africa,” the World Bank estimates that enhanced access to internet coverage has led to a remarkable seven per cent reduction in extreme poverty in both Nigeria and Tanzania over the span of three years.
The report, released in 2023, emphasizes that the positive impact of increased internet accessibility extends beyond poverty alleviation. In addition to the poverty reduction, the study highlights an impressive 8% surge in labor force participation and wage employment in the two African nations.
Andrew Dabalen, the World Bank Chief Economist for Africa, expressed his insights on the findings, stating, “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 digitalized world.”
The brief underscores the importance of digital infrastructure in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating job opportunities. Over the past five years (2016-2021), sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed an extraordinary 115% increase in internet users, contributing significantly to the region’s development.
Despite these positive strides, the report points out that sub-Saharan Africa’s digital infrastructure coverage, access, and quality still lag behind other regions. While 84% of people in the region lived in areas with 3G service availability and 63% had access to 4G mobile coverage by the end of 2021, only 22% were actively using mobile internet services.
The report highlights a significant gap between coverage and usage, particularly for broadband, where 61% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live within broadband range but do not utilize it.
This revelation underscores the untapped potential that increased internet usage holds for inclusive growth and economic development in Africa. As the continent continues to embrace digital transformation, closing this gap could not only further reduce poverty but also unlock opportunities for job creation and economic recovery.
With internet access proving to be a catalyst for positive change, policymakers and stakeholders are urged to prioritize initiatives that bridge the digital divide, ensuring that the benefits of a connected world reach every corner of society.
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