Internet data costs in East Africa countries are among the cheapest in Africa, according to a report by the technology think tank Research ICT Africa.
The report, 1GB Basket Statistics, compares different prices for 1GB of daily mobile Internet data in 45 of 53 African countries, taking into account the average costs of all Internet service providers (ISPs) in each state.
The report reveals that Tanzania charges the lowest in East Africa, followed by Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi as of September 2019. The countries rank fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth and eleventh in Africa with Egypt being the cheapest in Africa.
North Africa’s Tunisia comes second, while Mozambique is the third cheapest country to buy data. However, data costs remain a contentious issue on the continent, where many Africans still spend less than $1 a day, as food insecurity and low income ensure data is not a priority in their daily lives.
eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, had the most expensive mobile data prices in Africa in the third quarter of 2019. Due to tough economic times, Zimbabwe follows eSwatini on the list of Africa’s highest data prices.
The next highest was Seychelles, followed by Guinea-Bissau while Chad closed the top five expensive brackets.
According to the report, these charges sound high, but the truth is that they have become even more affordable when compared to the past years of the decade. The report says West Africa’s prices were variable, with low prices in Guinea, Nigeria, Benin, Niger, and Senegal.
South Africa ranked 16th out of the 45 countries researched in terms of the most expensive data. According to the stats, Southern Africa had a mix of the cheapest prices in Mozambique (Sh197) and Zambia (Sh270) and the most expensive in eSwatini (Sh2,139) and Zimbabwe (Sh2,000).
According to the World Bank, the global cost of 1 GB of data target is 2 percent of monthly income, but East Africans who comparatively enjoy affordable mobile internet, consume 4 percent of their income to purchase data bundles.
As technological disruptions shake industries across the world, African countries appear to move at different speeds, and this is a huge challenge for the continent. Strive Masiyiwa, founder of African technology and energy group Econet, says the solution lies in opening borders for a unified tech regulation.
“African governments must work together, and speak as one technology bloc regarding continental data regulation,” he said.
“These countries need to open up their borders for one another because they will need each other to move at the same pace. Data should be affordable to each nation so that none is left behind.”