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

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  • Buys, Piet
  • Dasgupta, Susmita
  • Thomas, Timothy S.
  • Wheeler, David

Abstract

Summary This paper investigates the determinants of disparities in coverage by cell telephone systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. It uses a spatially disaggregated probit for over 990,000 grid cells with adjustments for spatial autocorrelation. Determinants include potential market size (population); cost factors related to accessibility (elevation, slope, distance from a main road, and distance from the nearest large city); and competition policy. Estimates indicate significant results for the supply-demand variables, and very strong results for the competition policy index. Simulations suggest that a generalized improvement in competition policy could lead to huge improvements in cell phone area coverage, and to an overall coverage increase of nearly 100%.

Suggested Citation

  • Buys, Piet & Dasgupta, Susmita & Thomas, Timothy S. & Wheeler, David, 2009. "Determinants of a Digital Divide in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Spatial Econometric Analysis of Cell Phone Coverage," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1494-1505, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:37:y:2009:i:9:p:1494-1505
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hilbert, Martin, 2010. "When is Cheap, Cheap Enough to Bridge the Digital Divide? Modeling Income Related Structural Challenges of Technology Diffusion in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 756-770, May.
    2. Jenny C. Aker & Isaac M. Mbiti, 2010. "Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 207-232, Summer.
    3. Marco Manacorda & Andrea Tesei, 2016. "Liberation Technology: Mobile Phones and Political Mobilization in Africa," HiCN Working Papers 217, Households in Conflict Network.
    4. repec:eee:ecolet:v:159:y:2017:i:c:p:78-81 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hübler, Michael, 2016. "Does Migration Support Technology Diffusion in Developing Countries?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 148-162.
    6. Ggombe Kasim Munyegera & Tomoya Matsumoto, 2014. "Mobile Money, Remittances and Rural Household Welfare: Panel Evidence from Uganda," GRIPS Discussion Papers 14-22, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    7. Dimitris Batzilis & Taryn Dinkelman & Emily Oster & Rebecca Thornton & Deric Zanera, 2014. "New Cellular Networks in Malawi: Correlates of Service Rollout and Network Performance," NBER Chapters,in: African Successes, Volume III: Modernization and Development, pages 215-245 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Tadesse, Getaw & Bahiigwa, Godfrey, 2015. "Mobile Phones and Farmers’ Marketing Decisions in Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 296-307.
    9. Hurst, Matthew & Jensen, Nathaniel & Pedersen, Sarah & Shama, Asha & Zambriski, Jennifer, 2012. "Changing Climate Adaptation Strategies of Boran Pastoralists in Southern Ethiopia," MPRA Paper 55865, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Hübler, Michael & Hartje, Rebecca, 2016. "Are smartphones smart for economic development?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 130-133.
    11. Sarkar, Avijit & Pick, James B. & Johnson, Jeremy, 2015. "Africa's digital divide: Geography, policy, and implications," 2015 Regional ITS Conference, Los Angeles 2015 146339, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    12. Hübler, Michael, 2015. "Labor mobility and technology diffusion: A new concept and its application to rural Southeast Asia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 137-151.
    13. Jenny C. Aker & Marcel Fafchamps, 2015. "Mobile Phone Coverage and Producer Markets: Evidence from West Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 262-292.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) GSM cell phone spatial probit Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) competition policy;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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