CSAE Conference 2023: Economic Development in Africa

March 19, 2023 > March 21, 2023, Oxford

Joël Cariolle (FERDI) participated in the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) Economic Development in Africa Conference held at Oxford University from March 19-21, 2023.
He presented his paper co-authored with Camille da Piedade (Cerdi-UCA) "Digital Connectedness and Exports Upgrading: Is Sub Saharan Africa Catching Up?".

Joël Cariolle's presentation highlighted a new dimension of the submarine cable infrastructure network, called "digital connectivity," which reflects a country's digital proximity to key global markets, while assessing its impact on export enhancement. 

Adopting an instrumental variables approach conducted on a sample of 60 developing countries-including 23 sub-Saharan African countries-over the period 1995-2017, Joël Cariolle and Camille da Piedade find that digital connectivity contributes positively and significantly to the complexity of the export basket, but they also highlight spatial heterogeneity within their sample. 

The estimates highlight that, relative to the rest of the world, a 10 percentage point increase in the share of global GDP directly wired to SSA countries leads to an additional increase ranging from 4.6 index points to 5.3 index points in the export complexity index. Moreover, while the positive effect of digital connectivity fades everywhere else with distance from global markets, in SSA an increased advantage is recorded. Finally, consistent with the literature, improved digital connectivity also materializes in terms of increased exports of differentiated goods and greater participation in the global value chain. Overall, their analysis lends credence to the belief that improved access to information and knowledge, through greater digital connectivity, stimulates structural change and upgrading of the export basket in SSA at a higher rate than in any other developing region.