The World Bank says improved access to internet coverage in three years led to a seven per cent extreme poverty reduction in Nigeria and Tanzania.

The apex development bank made this known in a recent report titled, “Digital transformation drives development in Africa”.

It noted that the exposure to internet access 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, said, “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.”

Accordingly, he highlighted that over the past five years (2016-2021), sub-Saharan Africa experienced an extraordinary 115 per cent increase in internet users.

He said the change has been instrumental in spurring economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating job opportunities.

“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,” he said.

The development comes as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, unveiled plans to roll forward internet gains in Nigeria with an estimated $2 billion fund.

Industry statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission say that as of August 2023, broadband penetration in Africa’s most populous nation remains strong at 93,472 subscriptions.

This equates to a 45.57 per cent penetration rate with a target of achieving a 70 per cent rate in the next two years, according to the National Broadband 2020-2030.

Internet Access lifts 7% Nigerians from extreme poverty – World Bank

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