Niger is set to receive funding of US$100 million from the World Bank in order to push digital transformation initiatives.
As reported by Ecofinagency.com, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has approved a loan and a grant – each worth US$50 million – to help Niger improve access to vital social services in the country’s poorest regions, as well as augmenting infrastructure nationwide.
CommsUpdate notes that part of the funding will be used for Niger’s Smart Villages project, which seeks to boost rural broadband and mobile connectivity. In turn, this will increase access to mobile financial services in the most remote areas of Niger.
Tim Kelly, Senior Digital Development Specialist at the World Bank, stated: ‘The [COVID-19] pandemic has revealed the urgency of accelerating the digital transformation to enable countries like Niger to keep the private sector active and save lives and jobs. By ensuring that all citizens have access to quality and affordable internet connection, that online public services are easily accessible, and that the digital economy drives growth, innovation, and job creation, this new project will help Niger harness its potential for digital development.”
Niger has a mobile penetration rate of less than 55% according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, ranking 45th out of Africa’s 57 countries by this metric at the end of March 2020.