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Digitalization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Hopes and Hurdles

Jun 23, 2020 | IMF

Every second, the region has averaged 106 new internet users.1 This fast-paced digital revolution holds the promise of transforming economies and people’s lives. It takes on added importance as countries across the region grapple with the unprecedented health and socio-economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. All policy levers are being deployed to protect lives and livelihoods. Digital solutions have helped to provide more resilience and allowed for rapid, flexible, and inclusive policy responses to the pandemic. Looking ahead, the diffusion of digital technologies and knowledge will create new opportunities for progress and inclusion—greater resilience and efficiency, more access to global markets, improved public service delivery, increased transparency and accountability, and the creation of new jobs. However, digitalization also brings new challenges, including the risk of traditional job losses, the need to revisit policy design, and cybersecurity and data privacy concerns, among others.