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Africa: Are internet data plans affordable?

By Conrad Onyango
Posted on Saturday, 11 September 2021 14:00

Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati uses his cell phone to test the Loon technology internet via video call as Alphabet Inc begins offering the world's first commercial high-speed internet using balloons to villagers in Radad, Baringo County, Kenya July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Jackson Njehia

Ten countries on the continent now offer charges of less than a dollar for a gigabyte of data.

By Conrad Onyango – bird Newsroom.

Sudan leads nine other African countries that charge its citizens less than a dollar for a gigabyte (1 GB) of mobile data, a report by British technology research firm Cable shows.

The nation in the northeast of Africa offers the lowest cost of internet access over a smartphone anywhere on the continent and ranks among the top five cheapest countries for mobile data in the world according to the Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021.

The cost of mobile internet in Sudan is $0.27 for every gigabyte of data. The result is that access to the internet has become ubiquitous in many of the densely populated areas across the enormous country.

Citizens in Sudan “rely heavily on mobile data as the primary means to keep its populace connected to the rest of the world,” says the report.

Algeria is second-cheapest at $0.51, while Somalia takes the third-cheapest slot on the continent, at $0.60. Consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, Dan Howdle, said countries with the cheapest rates of mobile data have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure, making it easier for service providers in those markets to be able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte.

“Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that’s what people can afford,” said Howdle in the report.

Sudan, with a population of more than 45 million and at least 13 million internet subscribers is at par with Italy ($0.27), but trails Israel ($0.05), Kyrgyzstan ($0.15) and Fiji ($0.19), in the global ranking.

Other African countries that charge mobile internet subscribers less than a dollar to browse the web and run mobile apps are Ghana ($0.66 US), Libya ($0.74), Tanzania ($0.75), Mauritius ($0.75), Nigeria ($0.88), Cameroon ($0.90) and Senegal ($0.94).

The report, which featured more than 230 countries across 12 regions and compared the cost of 1GB from over 6,000 mobile data plans, also pointed out that North Africa (at an average of $1.53) has the cheapest data plans in the world.

Algeria (16), Libya (30) and Morocco (45) are in the world’s top 50 while Egypt (55) Tunisia (59) and Mauritania feature in the top 100 global list. However, Egypt ($1.04), Tunisia ($1.09) and Mauritania ($5.56) charge more than a dollar for 1GB of data.

Kenya and South Africa, with advanced mobile infrastructure and high internet traffic, fall far behind the top 100 list, with charges of $2.25 and $2.67 per gigabyte of data respectively.

The cost of data in these two countries, however, is cheaper than the global average of $4.07. According to the report, South Africa and Kenya are considered competitive mobile markets with the prices of these ‘wealthy nations’ not necessarily considered expensive by customers.

“Many countries in the middle of the list have good infrastructure and competitive mobile markets, and while their prices aren’t among the cheapest in the world they wouldn’t necessarily be considered expensive by its consumers,” says the report.

South Africa and Kenya have rolled out commercial 5G networks in their markets. This ultra-high-speed internet, though still in its infancy, is billed to have the potential to drive unprecedented and inclusive mobile data growth across the continent.

bird story agency.

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