According to a recent report from global consulting firm McKinsey, internet use in Africa is on the rise. Even though only about 16% of the continents one billion people are online, that share is rapidly increasing as more mobile networks are built out and the cost of internet devices continues to fall.
Governments have placed Internet-driven growth firmly on the agenda: Rwanda, Morocco, and Nigeria, for example, have ambitious plans to expand high-speed Internet access to most of their populations. Most countries have developed national information and communication technologies (ICT) strategies, but many are still in the early stages of implementation.
The Internet is likely to take hold on a much larger scale in the coming decade, and previous research has found that its impact is magnified in emerging countries. Mobile telephony has already had an out-sized effect in Africa as it connected people who previously had little or no access to telecommunications due to the scarcity of fixed-line infrastructure. If the Internet matches or exceeds that level of impact, the result could be a leap forward in Africa’s economic growth and development. Assuming a similar multiplier effect, the Internet could contribute some $300 billion to Africa’s GDP by 2025.
The Internet In Africa Today
• 16% (of 1 billion) Internet Penetration
• 167 million users
• 67 million smartphones
• >50% of urban audiences are online
• 51.6 million Facebook users
• $18 billion Internet contribution to GDP
Potential by 2025
• ~50% internet penetration
• 600 million users
• 360 million smartphones
• $75 billion in annual e-commerce sales
• $300 billion internet contribution to GDP
• ~$300 billion productivity gains in key sectors
Why The Internet Matters
The Internet is a catalyst for economic growth. In China, India, and Brazil, it has contributed more than 10% of total GDP growth over the past five years, and its impact is accelerating. MGI research has found that an increase in a country’s Internet maturity correlates with a sizable increase in real per capita GDP.
The benefits of Internet driven productivity gains are not limited to Web-based companies: among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 75% of the economic impact of the Internet has accrued to companies that are not pure Internet players. In a global survey of 4,800 SMEs, McKinsey found that across all sectors, companies utilising Web technologies grew more than twice as fast as those with a minimal online presence, generating more revenue through exports and creating more jobs.
As Africa grows more connected, millions will tap into information and opportunities that were once beyond their reach. They will gain a greater voice in their communities and enrich the world’s flow of commerce and ideas.