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Digitalizing Sub-Saharan Africa

June 25, 2020

With more than 100 new users every second, the pace at which people in sub-Saharan Africa are joining the internet is one of the fastest in the world. (iStock by Getty Images/Adene Sanchez)

While connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa lags behind other regions, digitalization is advancing fast and being embraced by those who do have access. Some countries are now global leaders in mobile money transactions—with a share of GDP average close to 25 percent, compared to just 5 percent in the rest of the world. In a region where infrastructure is often lacking, digital technologies offer ways to break down or leap over barriers. IMF economists Preya Sharma and Martha Tesfaye Woldemichael are co-authors of the latest analytical chapter for the Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa, which studies the impact of digitalization. In this podcast, Sharma and Woldemichael say expanding internet access in sub-Saharan Africa by an extra 10 percent of the population could increase real per capita GDP growth by 1 to 4 percentage points.


Preya Sharma and Martha Tesfaye Woldemichael are both economists in the IMF's African Department.