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A Single Digital Market for East Africa

Michael Kende Senior Adviser, Consulting
David Abecassis Partner, Consulting
Richard Morgan Principal, Consulting

A Single Digital Market for East AfricaAnalysys Mason, together with Dr Michael Kende and Prof Neil Gandal, worked with the World Bank to define a vision for a Single Digital Market (SDM) in East Africa. Interacting closely with Government and market participants in the region, we contributed a vision for the SDM, a strategic framework and a roadmap for achieving it. We also developed a market assessment and scorecard that captures the current state of domestic markets and regional readiness to move toward an SDM, as well as targets and metrics for tracking progress. Finally we carried out an economic impact assessment to quantify the potential benefits for each country. 

We are delighted that the research has now been published, together with further analysis conducted by the World Bank. The report was launched at Transform Africa 2019 and is available on the World Bank’s website.


The East Africa Single Digital Market (SDM) initiative aims to support the region to become a more deeply integrated and dynamic digital investment, innovation, and growth hub, building on the underlying strengths of the domestic digital economies and the ongoing political and economic integration processes in East Africa as well as at the continental level. It stems from a recognition that countries in the region are too small to succeed in the digital economy in isolation. They need the economies of scale and network effects offered by a larger regional market to help bridge the digital divide faster within their respective countries and the region in relation to the global digital economy. An SDM could accelerate the growth of technology-enabled businesses, lower the cost of key telecom services, and catalyze new digital services for citizens and businesses alike.

An integrated East African digital market would be the ninth largest in the world, based on population, creating the ‘domestic’ market size needed to attract digital investment and provide a larger and more familiar space for local firms to grow before having to compete in global markets. It will provide the region with the heft to compete against digital giants on the continent such as Nigeria, and ultimately to contend with the globally dominant digital hubs such as Silicon Valley, which benefit from large domestic markets in which to scale before tackling other markets.

The initiative has brought together stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, and academia to highlight the aspirations for, and benefits of, creating an SDM, as well as to articulate:

  • A shared vision for the SDM,
  • A strategic framework and roadmap for achieving the SDM, and
  • A market assessment and scorecard that captures the current state of domestic markets and regional readiness to move toward an SDM, as well as targets and metrics for tracking progress.

The SDM initiative for East Africa draws on the successes and lessons learned from similar initiatives implemented elsewhere, which includes the European Digital Single Market. Yet, it is adapted to the unique context, challenges, and opportunities of the region and within each country.

An SDM for East Africa is defined as one in which cross-border barriers to providing and accessing digital infrastructure, content, and services are eliminated. It is one in which a seamless and competitive regional digital ecosystem drives a reinforcing cycle of economic growth, investment, innovation, job creation, and improved service delivery.

Figure 1: Overview of SDM vision and strategic framework

Figure 1: Overview of SDM vision and strategic framework

The full report is available to download here.

This text and framework is from the report - Copyright The World Bank