Working Papers

ICTs Services Development and Trade: How Africa Can Benefit (2020 Update)

ICTs Services Development and Trade: How Africa Can Benefit (2020 Update)

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26 Feb 2020

Author(s): John Stuart

The pace of development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has been unlike any industry development hitherto experienced. The nature of the industry is such that it’s ‘futurists’ are shown to be accurate or not within just a few years. The rate of venture capital investment into this sector also outstrips any other, as investors rush to discover and buy into the next Google, Facebook or Uber.

Unlike manufacturing or mining, investment into ICTs can likewise be shown to yield returns relatively quickly. As modern economies shift further and further towards a service production orientation rather than a manufacturing one, new modes develop for service delivery and trade extends far beyond national borders. These developments hold many opportunities for the developing nations of Africa, but ones that need to be seized and acted decisively on.

This paper examines services made possible by new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) that are capable of being domestically and internationally traded. The emphasis is on the implications for African economies, as a unique subset of the emerging economy group. This paper is an update of a paper by the same name, published in 2015[1]. In this updated version we have updated data and, in some cases, used alternative data where the original source was no longer available. The content has also been updated to reflect developments since the publishing of the original data. Therefore, in the main body of the paper, the conclusion and the summary, updated developments are included in the analysis to bring the reader fully up to date as at January of 2020.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.


[1] Stuart, J. (2015). ICTs Services Development and Trade: How Africa Can Benefit. tralac Working Paper. Available https://www.tralac.org/publications/article/8049-icts-services-development-and-trade-how-africa-can-benefit.html