The Internet is a tremendous, undisputed force for economic growth and social change. Not only has it unleashed new
forms of connectivity, but it has also provided an outlet for new forms of innovation, entrepreneurship and social good. The Internet has also proven a dynamic tool for stimulating economic growth in developing countries, with the World Bank reporting that a 10% increase in broadband correlates to a 1.38% increase in GDP growth1. Beyond GDP growth, the Internet also provides opportunities to pursue social and developmental objectives. Throughout the developing world, the Internet is connecting remote populations to markets and strengthening the overall efficiency of service delivery in areas such as health, education, livelihoods and financial inclusion, as well as creating access to government services for the most marginalised populations.
Still, the story of the Internet in developing countries is very much a work in progress. In particular, the Internet’s potential is still largely untapped in Sub-Saharan Africa, the focus of this report. Broadband penetration on the continent is low compared to regions of similar income, and although 15% of the world’s population lives in Sub- Saharan Africa, only 6% of the world’s Internet users do. Despite widespread agreement on the web’s potential to transform lives and reduce poverty, there is a paucity of information that details how policymakers and investors should capitalize on this potential.