Determinants of a Digital Divide in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Spatial Econometric Analysis of Cell Phone Coverage

26 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Piet Buys

Piet Buys

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Susmita Dasgupta

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Tim Thomas

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David Wheeler

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: February 1, 2008

Abstract

Most discussions of the digital divide treat it as a North-South issue, but the conventional dichotomy doesn't apply to cell phones in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although almost all Sub-Saharan countries are poor by international standards, they exhibit great disparities in coverage by cell telephone systems. Buys, Dasgupta, Thomas and Wheeler investigate the determinants of these disparities with a spatially-disaggregated model that employs locational information for cell-phone towers across over 990,000 4.6-km grid squares in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using probit techniques, a probability model with adjustments for spatial autocorrelation has been estimated that relates the likelihood of cell-tower location within a grid square to potential market size (proximate population); installation and maintenance cost factors related to accessibility (elevation, slope, distance from a main road, distance from the nearest large city); and national competition policy. Probit estimates indicate strong, significant results for the supply-demand variables, and very strong results for the competition policy index. Simulations based on the econometric results suggest that a generalized improvement in competition policy to a level that currently characterizes the best-performing states in Sub-Saharan Africa could lead to huge improvements in cell-phone area coverage for many states currently with poor policy performance, and an overall coverage increase of nearly 100 percent.

Keywords: E-Business, ICT Policy and Strategies, Population Policies, Technology Industry, Geographical Information Systems

Suggested Citation

Buys, Piet and Dasgupta, Susmita and Thomas, Tim and Wheeler, David, Determinants of a Digital Divide in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Spatial Econometric Analysis of Cell Phone Coverage (February 1, 2008). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series, Vol. , pp. -, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1093128

Piet Buys

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-522-3230 (Fax)

Susmita Dasgupta (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-2679 (Phone)
202-522-3230 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/sdasgupta

Tim Thomas

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David Wheeler

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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