Saturday March 23, 2019
By Kenn Abuya
The rise of the internet and smart devices has revolutionized and disrupted several interrelated industries. Telecoms corporations have amassed fortunes by selling several products and services, including mobile data/broadband. In particular, and according to the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), people who live in developing economies such as the lion’s share of Africa face the least affordable mobile broadband prices. In fact, the past half a decade saw a rise in broadband cost for the first time.
We examined A4AI’s comprehensive report that highlighted the latest pricing across 99 countries and made several inferences. To begin with, the price is still expensive for millions of people, and only 30 of the nations surveyed have affordable mobile broadband. This implies more than 1.3 billion people live in countries where 1 GB plan is expensive.
Now, which are the most expensive African states to buy a 1 GB mobile data bundle? Well, Equatorial Guinea takes the crown because a gig of data costs $34.8 there. DRC Congo comes second at $20 for the same bundle, whereas Angola, Guinea Bissau, and Somalia take the third, fourth and fifth spot at $16.3, $15.66 and $15, respectively. Zimbabweans pay an average of $15 for 1 GB data nuggets too. Sierra Leone and, Chad, Libya and the Central African Republic close the top ten list as people pay up to $14.34, $12.18, $11.32 and $11.19 respectively for the commodity.
To put this in perspective, and ignoring other financial and economic variables therein, you would need to pay almost KES 3500 for 1 GB in Equatorial Guinea or KES 1100 in Libya. KES 1000 can net you a substantial amount of GBs locally, although that is not the best deal you can get in Africa.
Egypt is the cheapest African country to buy mobile data as 1 GB costs approximately $1.12. Nigeria follows closely at $2.74. Rwanda takes it up to $2.8, followed by Senegal, Niger, and Cameroon at $3.48 each.
A4AI states that ‘without action from policymakers, this two-speed trend for internet affordability will grow the digital divide and deprive low-income countries of valuable opportunities for revenue and development.’