Telecommunications Services in Africa: The Impact of Multilateral Commitments and Unilateral Reform on Sector Performance and Economic Growth

This paper examines the impact of telecommunications liberalization in Africa on both sectoral performance and economic growth. Besides unilateral measures, we account for WTO commitments fostering the credibility of reforms. Actual regulatory quality plays a major role in bringing down prices and in improving access to telecommunication services in Africa. Competition, notably in the mobile telephony segment, also improves sector performance. Increasing access to mobile networks by 1 per cent translates into a 0.5 per cent increase in real GDP per capita. In Africa, multilateral commitments do not reflect recent reforms. However, at the global level, adherence to the WTO Reference Paper entails lower prices.

No: ERSD-2006-10


Calvin Djiofack-Zebaze, PhD candidate (CERDI) and Alexander Keck, WTO

Manuscript date: November 2006

Key Words

Telecommunications services, liberalization, Africa, WTO, GATS.

JEL classification numbers

F13, L96, C23, O55, O14.


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This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of the author, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the authors. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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