A new report detailing the cost of mobile data in various markets around the world shows why internet usage remains low in most of Africa despite growing broadband internet coverage.
The global mobile prices 2022 reportsurveying 233 countries shows that five of the ten most expensive countries in the world to buy mobile data are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mobile data is so expensive in these countries that 1 GB costs at least $10, which is 250 times more expensive than Israel, which is said to have the cheapest data in the world.
In Sao Tome and Principe, 1 GB of data costs $29, while in Botswana it costs $16. Togo ($13), Seychelles ($13) and Namibia ($11) are the other African countries with the most expensive data packages, hampering economic growth and job creation.
Dan Howdle, consumer telecom analyst at price comparison site Cable.co.uk, said in a statement: “At the pricier end of the list, we have countries where infrastructure is often not great, but also where consumption is very small.”
“People often buy data packets as small as ten megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large and therefore expensive amount of data to buy,” he said.
In Africa, the internet is cheapest in Ghana at $0.61, followed by Somalia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Eswatini, Kenya and Mauritius – where 1 GB of mobile data costs less than a dollar. Apparently, affordable internet could explain these countries’ booming digital economies, hence their attractiveness to venture capitalists and tech investors.
In particular, the cost of mobile data has dropped significantly this year compared to the latest charges in Malawi ($26 to $2), Chad ($23 to $2), and Equatorial Guinea ($50 to $10), putting them of the list of countries with the most expensive mobile data.
Why affordable internet is needed in Africa
Over the past eight years, the number of people with internet access in Africa has doubled to 28% – thanks to increased broadband internet coverage and the penetration of smartphones. However, according to the 2021 state of mobile internet in Africa, more than half a billion (53%) people in regions with mobile broadband networks remain disconnected due to high data costs report by GSMA, an umbrella organization representing mobile operators worldwide.
But this is likely to change as tech titans like Google and Meta invest heavily in infrastructure to bring what they say is cheap and fast internet to Africa.
Affordable internet and the increasing adoption of smartphones, expected to grow to 75% from last year’s 64%, means that Africa’s digital economy, currently valued at $115 billion, and projected to increase sixfold by 2050 will positively impact other sectors of the economy.
Attempt predicts that 44 million jobs could be created if internet penetration reached 75%, a 2.5% increase in GDP per capita for every 10% growth in mobile penetration, and global recognition and increased investment by technology giants and international investors.