Impact of Digital Technology Adoption on Employment in Senegal

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Diallo, Thierno Malick
Dumas, Tsambou André
Benjamin, Fomba Kamga
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African Economic Research Consortium
Today, the country has a high rate of ICT use, with its smartphone adoption rate (35.6%) being among the highest in West Africa (Banque Mondiale [World Bank], 2019). Senegal is ranked 14th in Africa on the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index 2016 and 1st on the continent for the weight of the Internet in its economy, estimated at 3.3% (République du Sénégal [Republic of Senegal], 2016). Despite these achievements, the country still faces many challenges. In fact, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU, 2017) ranked Senegal 124th in 2012 and 142nd in 2017 out of 176 countries, according to the ICT development index. This 18-place drop was due to lack of competition on the ICT market and the attendant high rates. While these rates have decreased over the last few years, they remain high: the cost of mobile internet represents 12% of the gross monthly per capita income in Senegal, compared to only 6% in Kenya (Banque Mondiale [World Bank], 2019). The results of the Gallup survey (2017) also revealed that broadband internet access had deteriorated between 2016 and 2017 in both urban and rural areas, while the urban rural internet divide had increased by 4 percentage points during the same year. All this goes to show that Senegal is still marked by limited coverage and a significant urban-rural digital divide. Furthermore, the development of the ICT sector requires adaptability and rapid response, and, hence, a high level of human capital. However, Senegal’s population is characterized by a low level of academic qualifications and skills, a situation which is not conducive to a rapid expansion of a dynamic digital economy. Indeed, the country was ranked 168th out of 189 countries in the 2019 Human Development Index published by the UNDP (2020) and 128th out of 130 countries in the 2017 Human Capital Index published by the World Economic Forum (2017). This may explain why Senegal has not taken full advantage of ICT benefits.