The internet economy is expected to deliver productivity gains across key sectors such as financial services, education, health, retail, agriculture and government to the value of between US$148 billion and U$318 billion by 2025, the McKinsey Global Institute has predicted, as a new report highlights the internet’s critical role in changing Africa’s socio-economic fortunes.
In Kenya, the internet economy already represents 3.6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and in other developing countries 1.3% of GDP comes from the Internet economy.
“The Internet economy presents a major opportunity for Africa. Africa needs a secure and reliable Internet infrastructure that users trust in order to bringing large and small businesses online, along with governments and other social services,” Dawit Bekele, Internet Society director for Africa Region, said.
However, Bekele said a thriving Internet economy in Africa could be put at risk by the increasing number of Internet shutdowns in the region. There were at least 56 shutdowns of the Internet around the world in 2016 alone.
These shutdowns, the Internet Society says, affect individuals and organisations that depend on the Internet for their daily lives and have negative effects on the economy.
“In addition to the economic costs, internet shutdowns also affect trust. If people don’t know whether they will have connectivity, they can no longer rely on that connectivity to build internet-based businesses. This will affect entrepreneurs in greatest need of digital-led innovation for their own future, and the future of the Internet economy in Africa,” Bekele explained.
The new Internet Society’s report, ‘Promoting the African Internet Economy’ further examines internet adoption and use by companies and governments throughout the region, identifying barriers that must be overcome in order to create an internet economy that delivers innovative services, job opportunities and income growth across the continent.
Both businesses and citizens can benefit from an internet economy, the global non-profit organisation said.
Businesses across all sectors gain access to a global marketplace of billions of people, and citizens in both rural and urban areas benefit from enhanced educational and training opportunities and access to new job possibilities.
Furthermore, the report outlines what needs to be done for Africa to take full advantage of the digital opportunity offered by the Internet. It highlights local successes as well as broader challenges, offering recommendations for policymakers in Africa to adopt.
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