Internet Geographer


Posts tagged economic geography
New publication: Digital Connectivity and African Knowledge Economies
Screenshot from 2018-07-04 17-31-29.png

My team at the Geonet project have a new publication out that summarises some of our research to-date. You can download the full paper here, or get a free open-access version at the link below:

Graham, M., Ojanpera, S., Anwar, M. A., and Friederici, N. 2017. Digital Connectivity and African Knowledge Economies. Questions de Communication. 32. 345-360.


Connectivity throughout the world is rapidly changing. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region is quickly moving from a state of digital dis-connectivity, to a state where hundreds of millions of citizens are connected to the digital economy.This rapid change in connectivity has generated a lot of hope and excitement for the potentials of an emergent knowledge economy in the region. Sub- Saharan Africa can, in theory, compete in the production of all manner of digital goods and services with anywhere else in the world.This article surveys the current state of our ongoing multi-year research into the topic, based on empirical research into a range of sectors and domains (including computer code writing, online freelancing, business process outsourcing, and digital entrepreneurship).

Uneven Geographies of Digital Wages

Our previous post contained a few maps that shed light on the geographies of online work. But what we didn’t do there was explore the spatial variance of wages.

The cartogram in this post depicts each country as a circle and sizes each country according to the wages for digital work flowing into each country every month (on the platform). The shading of the inner circle indicates the median wage for digital work in that country. The graphic broadly reveals that median wages are, perhaps unsurprisingly low in developing countries and are significantly higher in wealthier countries.

With my colleagues Isis Hjorth, Vili Lehdonvirta, and Helena Barnard, working on a multi-year project on digital labour and development, we’ll have have some research coming out soon that explores some of the reasons why digital workers in the Global South have less bargaining power than their counterparts in the North, and why workers in the North can often attract a premium for their work. The issue is not just a global race to the bottom (which in some ways seems to be occurring), but that there are different price floors for wages in different parts of the world, and there are wage penalties associated with being affiliated with some countries.

(Elance-oDesk Inc. supported this work with their data; our project is funded by the IDRC; also thanks to Stefano De Sabbata, Claudio Calvino, and Sanna Ojanpera for their help with this work. This is a cross-post from the Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality website)
Mapping a Freelance Working Week

Wired has just published some of the work on the geography of freelance work that I’ve been doing with my colleague Stefano De Sabbata. We’ve posted a longer description and discussion on our Information Geographies website

This work also closely ties into two new projects that we’re starting at the OII this year:

GeoNet: Internet Geographies: Changing Connectivities and the Potentials of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Knowledge Economy


Microwork and Virtual Production Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia
A Collection of Maps of Submarine Fibre-optic Cables in Africa

I’ve been speaking with my Oxford-based college, Martina Kirchberger, about co-authoring some work on the effects of fibre-optic connectivity throughout Africa. As part of this discussion, Martina has very helpfully put together a list of maps of fibre-optic cables in Africa. Please let us know if we’re missing anything interesting:

For submarine cables

For terrestrial fibre