Concern over the sale of ICT products in Africa during COVID
COVID appears to have boosted global trade-in information and communication technology (ICT) goods by accelerating digitalization overall according to an UNCTAD technical note on the pandemic’s impact on trade in the digital economy. Before the pandemic trade in ITC had been declining. Considered together with the sharp decline in other sectors of merchandise trade, the share of ICT goods in imports surged from around 13% in 2019 to nearly 16% in 2020. To put this in perspective, import demand in developed regions stayed relatively flat, whereas across developing regions ICT goods imports increased by 2% overall. However, this conceals considerable differences between developing countries as imports of ICT goods to LDCs and Africa declined by 48%. UNCTAD has concluded from these data that the pandemic appears to be exacerbating existing divides by pushing countries with low levels of digitalization further behind. This hampers their ability to engage in digital trade when it has become even more important.
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