Readers Corner: Digital Africa, Technological Transformation for Jobs

Digital Africa: Technological Transformation for Jobs

All African countries need better and more jobs for their growing populations. Digital Africa: Technological Transformation for Jobs shows that broader use of productivity-enhancing digital technologies by enterprises and households is imperative to generate such jobs, including for lower-skilled people. At the same time, broader use can support not only countries’ short-term objective of postpandemic economic recovery but also their vision of economic transformation with more inclusive growth.

These outcomes are not automatic, however. Mobile internet availability has increased throughout the continent in recent years, but Africa’s uptake gap is the highest in the world. Areas with at least 3G mobile internet service now cover 84 percent of country populations averaged across Sub-Saharan Africa, but only 22 percent use such services. The average African business lags in the use of smartphones and computers, as well as more sophisticated digital technologies that catalyze further productivity gains.

  For those countries already using these technologies, the development payoffs are significant. New empirical studies for this report add to the rapidly growing evidence that digital technologies raises enterprise productivity, increases jobs, and reduces poverty across Africa.

  To realize these and other benefits more widely, Africa’s countries must implement complementary and mutually reinforcing policies to strengthen both consumers’ ability to pay and willingness to use digital technologies. These interventions must prioritize productive use to generate large numbers of inclusive jobs in a region poised to benefit from a massive, youthful workforce—one projected to become the world’s largest by the end of this century.

  Download Supporting Publication Here: Mind Mapping