The World Bank reports a 7% reduction in poverty in Nigeria and Tanzania due to increased internet access

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The World Bank has revealed in its recent brief, “Digital transformation drives development in Africa,” that enhanced Internet access in Nigeria and Tanzania resulted in a notable 7% reduction in extreme poverty over three years.

Moreover, labor force participation and wage employment witnessed an impressive 8% increase.

In the last five years, Sub-Saharan Africa saw a remarkable 115% surge in Internet users, contributing significantly to economic growth, innovation, and job opportunities.

Despite Nigeria having over five million active Internet subscriptions, there’s a pressing need for broader coverage to foster inclusive economic growth.

Dr. Bosun Tijani, the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, acknowledged Nigeria’s relatively low data costs globally but expressed concerns about operators’ reluctance to extend fiber coverage beyond major cities due to profitability concerns.

World Bank Chief Economist for Africa, Andrew Dabalen, emphasized the untapped potential of mobile internet usage in Africa, stating that closing the uptake gap could drive inclusive growth.

However, challenges persist, including high mobile internet costs and a substantial digital gender gap, with women being 37% less likely to use mobile internet compared to men.

The brief underscores the region’s digital infrastructure challenges, noting that despite widespread coverage, only 22% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa were using mobile internet services by the end of 2021.

Affordability remains a major hurdle, with the cost of one gigabyte of mobile data significantly exceeding the United Nations Broadband Commission’s recommended 2% of monthly per-capita Gross National Income.

Moreover, the digital gender gap persists, with women lagging behind in mobile internet use by 37%.

The lack of proof of ID for around 470 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2021 is hindering their access to crucial public and private services.

Despite these challenges, the World Bank reiterated its commitment to digital development in Africa, with a substantial investment of $731.8 million across 11 Digital Development projects over six years.

This aligns with the broader Digital Economy for Africa initiative, aiming to digitally empower every individual, business, and government in Africa by 2030, with a cumulative allocation of $2.8 billion across 24 projects over the past decade.

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