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African countries on par with broadband threshold targets

African countries on par with broadband threshold targets.
African countries on par with broadband threshold targets.

Botswana, Nigeria and the Seychelles are on track to have a basket below the Broadband Commission’s affordability threshold target of 2% of monthly Gross National Income (GNI) per capita to entry-level broadband services by 2023.

This is according to a report Measuring Digital Development: ICT Price Trends 2019 released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The three countries could join Mauritius and Gabon, which have the most affordable baskets in Africa and are the only two countries with a basket below 2% ahead of the 2025 target, the ITU’s report says.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development initially set the threshold target at less than 5% of GNI p.c. in 2011 as part of the ‘Connecting the Other Half’ initiative, which seeks to ensure more affordable broadband (fixed or mobile) services (especially to people in lower income groups in developing and least developed countries).

It was later revised to less than 2% when affordability improved but costs remained high in many countries.

The report says prices in the three countries are currently between 2% and 3% of GNI p.c. unlike in many other African countries which still grapple with mobile-data baskets at a cost of more than 10% of GNI p.c., even in situations where incomes are already limited.

Nonetheless, the ITU report shows that the least affordable prices for mobile-voice, mobile-data and fixed-broadband services are still found in Africa despite a steady decrease on average globally.

An excerpt from the report reads: “Regionally, the least affordable baskets relative to income are found in Africa, at 11.4 percent of GNI p.c. on average. The other regions are considerably less expensive. Europeans have access to the cheapest baskets, at 0.8 percent of GNI p.c., followed by the CIS region (2.2 percent), Asia and the Pacific (2.7 percent), the Americas (2.9 percent) and the Arab States (4.1 percent),” the report states.

The report points out that the reducing cost of telecoms and ICT services is not necessarily true of all countries or of the entire population in each country and does not translate into rapidly increasing internet penetration rates as there seems to be other barriers to Internet use.

It is the first time that the ITU has reported its revised price baskets since a revision of the ICT price benchmark methodology in 2017, and also the first time the organisation has shared results for the combined data-and-voice baskets introduced after the 2017 revision, according to Doreen Bogdan-Martin Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau at ITU.

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