Zimbabwe: Zim's Mobile Data Second Most Expensive in Africa - Study

Zimbabwe's main mobile phone network providers.
20 September 2018

A recent study published by Pan African financial institution, EcoBank, states that Zimbabwe is the second country in Africa which sells the most expensive mobile data.

The development is contrary to State President Emmerson Mnangagwa's bid to open up the country's business to more locals and outsiders.

The survey report reveals that in Zimbabwe, 1GB of mobile data costs $25 second from Equatorial Guinea which has the most expensive data on the continent being sold at a whopping $35 per 1 GB.

In Swaziland, it is sold at $21.86.

When compared to average monthly incomes, access to mobile internet in South Africa is among the most affordable in Sub Saharan Africa.

Relative to Gross National Income (GNI PPP), 1GB in South Africa equates to just 0.9% of the average monthly income, making it the fifth cheapest in sub-Saharan Africa and well below the African average of 4.1%.

"The most expensive countries are Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Liberia which average 14-16 percent, while Chad, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Burundi average 6-8 percent, double the African average.

Mineral-rich countries including Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Gabon, Angola and Nigeria have the lowest percentages," says the report.

A continental analysis of the rates reveal that the average price across Africa is estimated at $7.04 per 1 GB with a majority of countries recording prices above UN Broadband Commission's target of 2% of monthly income.

The study notes that countries with more than three mobile operating companies have the least rates due to factors owing to competition.

South Africa's reasonable costs have been attributed to the July 2017 campaign ran under #DataMustFall which saw operators taking heed of the protests to down data prices.

Notably, the study observes that the African continent's inhabitants spend 8.76 percent of their income on mobile data as compared to 3.58 percent for Latin America and 1.54 percent by Asians.

"In stark contrast, in countries like Zimbabwe, the DRC and Liberia, where mobile data is upwards of 13% of monthly GNI per capita, accessing the Internet regularly is unaffordable for most consumers, perpetuating digital exclusion," observes the study.

The study notes that impact is felt not just by consumers, who do not have access to the services and information that can be provided digitally, but also by SMEs (which make up over 90 percent of businesses in Africa.

A global survey of 4,800 SMEs found that those that use the Internet for business grow twice as fast as those that do not or cannot.

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