Reducing Poverty in Mozambique
The southern African nation Mozambique stretches across the Indian Ocean coastline, hosting picturesque beaches and crystal-clear waters. Yet, despite the beautiful nature of this country, the extreme poverty rate is prevalent in Mozambique. Roughly 62% of the population is multidimensionally poor, about 21 million people. However, there is hope, with the extreme poverty rate projected to decrease to 57% by 2025. The assistance of technology is making reducing poverty in Mozambique a reality.

The Situation

Over the past five years, there has been an obvious increase in poverty rates in Mozambique. With a crisis generated by decreasing foreign direct investment, military attacks and natural disasters, it is not hard to see why Mozambique is struggling. The discovery of hidden debts incurred by the government in 2013 led to a retraction of foreign aid, food price spikes and a reduction in household consumption. This multiplier effect has led to the number of Mozambicans living in extreme poverty increasing by 55% to 60%. 

How Mozambique’s Digital Transformation Has Helped

Mozambique’s digital transformation has developed hugely since 2020, yet still only 21.7% of the population are internet users as of 2021. However, the percentage of people who have internet access has more than doubled from 15 to 32% between 2015 and 2021. COVID-19 aided companies to move to these online platforms and remain sustainable, being further supported by the World Bank, which offered Mozambique a $150 million grant to support the Digital Governance and Economy Project. The project intends to improve digital business opportunities and public services to provide job opportunities and increase the quality of life for Mozambicans. This is just one of the examples of the many initiatives using technology to reduce poverty in Mozambique. 

Another impressive initiative using technology to aid poverty in Mozambique is the Mozambique Digital Acceleration Project. The project is a collaboration between the Government of Mozambique and the World Bank Group to ensure Mozambicans are able to access the internet and increase their earning potential. The goals include the expansion of mobile broadband networks to cover more than 2 million people in deeply rural areas, free public Wi-Fi access points, policy reforms in the telecom sector and investments in the core digital infrastructure. 

Barriers to Reducing Poverty in Mozambique

However, there are major barriers to technology reducing poverty in Mozambique. The high cost of devices, unfamiliarity with the Internet and a low (48%) literacy rate obstruct Mozambicans from achieving technological advancement. Limited access to electricity and financial services alongside the emerging mining projects that continue to drive ICT infrastructure investments disadvantage many rural areas. 

Ultimately, these technological improvements will be life-changing for many Mozambicans. Increased digitization of the economy will pave the way for a more empowered and resilient country. The International Telecommunications Union estimates that every 10% increase in mobile broadband penetration in Africa leads to an additional 2.5% growth in GDP per capita. The positive multiplier effects of implementing technology will be endless, helping to move the economy away from natural resource extraction, expanding opportunities for business development and even providing better warnings of natural disasters. 

– Gracie Gobat
Photo: Flickr