14 November 2009

Half of Africa's improved growth from ICT

A recent report indicates that Market liberalisation has encouraged massive private investment in Africa's cellular networks, according to a report released recently by the World Bank.

The result was a major revolution in information and communications technology (ICT), which helped boost economic growth to an annual 4 percent between 2001 and 2005, the report on Africa's infrastructure by the World Bank said.

"About half of Africa's improved growth performance in the early 2000s was attributable to this wireless revolution: one extra percentage point of growth per person per year."

However, it identifies serious infrastructure gaps in the power, water and transport sectors, which reduced national economic growth by 2 percentage points every year, and cut business productivity by as much as 40 percent.

The report describes how, between 1999 and 2006, the share of the African population living within range of a mobile signal mushroomed from 5 percent to 60 percent. Africa has a million new cellular subscribers, almost all on prepaid telephones. Signal coverage could profitably be expanded to cover over 95 percent of the population without any public subsidy, by reducing regulatory barriers.

Read the full report

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