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Zimbabwe the most expensive for mobile data

By , Journalist
Africa , 05 Mar 2019

Zimbabwe the most expensive for mobile data

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to four of the five most expensive countries in which to buy mobile data.

This according to UK-based broadband research firm Cable, which also says the region is home to three of the top ten global markets that have the cheapest data for mobile internet.

The cost of mobile data in Rwanda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo is 0.56 cents, 0.68 cents and 0.88 cents per 1GB respectively (in US Dollar terms.)

Statistics show Zimbabwe as having the most expensive data.

Telecom industry sources in the Southern African country say mobile companies will apply for an upward review of data tariffs owing to massive inflation increases.

"Zimbabwe is the most expensive country in which to buy mobile data. The average cost of 1GB there is US$75.20 - 289 times the average cost in India (which has the cheapest mobile data in the world)," notes Cable.

Zimbabwe is joined by Equatorial Guinea, where mobile data costs US$65.83 per 1GB and Djibouti whose average data costs are around US$37.92 per 1GB.

The average cost of mobile data in Zambia, Lesotho and Tanzania is US$2.25, US$2.43 and US$7.51 per 1GB respectively.

In North Africa, Egypt is the cheapest at US$1.49 per 1GB, while Algeria is the most expensive in the region at US$5.15 on average.

Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, said: "At the more expensive end of the list we have countries where often the infrastructure isn't great, but also where consumption is very small. People often buy data packages of just tens of megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large (and therefore expensive) amount of data to buy."

It is understood that mobile operators in the region are looking to increase the price of data, while governments have also increased taxes levied on airtime and data top-ups.

Safaricom and Airtel in Kenya hiked data tariffs in October 2018, while Algeria also slapped telcos with tax hikes through the Finance Bill.

Dhanaraj Thakur, research director at World Wide Web Foundation, said recently that mobile internet connectivity would be much more expensive for people earning less than average incomes in struggling countries in the region.

"We are talking about people earning average incomes. What about those who earn much less than the average income? It will be much more," said Thakur.

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