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Somalia no longer has the cheapest mobile data rates in Africa

Thursday April 29, 2021

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somalia no longer has the lowest mobile internet data prices in Africa, according to an annual report released by a British technology firm.

In their 2021worldwide mobile data pricing report, Cable UK revealed that Somalia ranks 22nd in mobile data prices globally and third in Africa. It fell 15 places from its 2020 position of 7th.

The average cost of 1GB of data in Somalia is increased to $0.60, but users can get 1GB of data for as low as $0.18.

In 2020, Somalia had the coveted title of cheapest mobile data on the continent at the cost of $0.49/GB but was overtaken this year by Sudan, which now ranks 5th globally. The average price of 1GB in Sudan is $0.27 and can go as low as just seven cents. Sudan was able to slash the average cost of a GB by $0.36 in one year.

Algeria has the second cheapest mobile data prices in Africa, with an average cost of $0.51 for 1GB. Globally it ranks 16th.

As a continent, Africa falls on both extremes of the mobile data pricing spectrum. North Africa is the cheapest overall region in the world. All but one - Mauritania (5.56/GB avg) - of the seven North African countries are in the cheapest half of the table.

On the other hand, Sub-Saharan Africa is the priciest region to buy mobile data in the world. The area has six out of the ten most expensive countries, with Equatorial Guinea the most costly in the world ($49.67/GB avg), joined by Saint Helena ($39.87/GB avg), São Tomé and Príncipe ($30.97/GB avg), Malawi ($25.46/GB avg) and Chad ($23.33/GB avg) at the bottom end of the table. Sudan is the only country among the top ten cheapest globally.

Somalia is the second cheapest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Ghana ($0.66/GB avg), Tanzania and Mauritius ($0.75/GB avg).

The report says that the disparity all boils down to usage. Despite both regions having smaller economies and lower incomes when compared globally, internet penetration through mobile devices is much higher in North Africa.

"The fact is there are many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where a relatively small percentage of the population owns a smartphone. This means there are a lot of countries where smartphone ownership, and therefore internet access via a smartphone, is still considered an expensive luxury. In some places, even too expensive for the middle classes."

The low mobile internet usage forces firms to charge a much higher price to their small but wealthy customer base to cover the infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Israel offers the world's cheapest mobile data with an average cost of $0.05, moving up from second place last year. It was followed by Kyrgyzstan ($0.15/GB avg), Fiji ($0.19/GB avg), Italy and Sudan ($0.27/GB avg).


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