By Mark Kawalya
You can buy a gigabyte of data in Tanzania for as little as US0.75, making it the country with the lowest data costs in East Africa. Rwanda which had been holding this position is now second where users pay US$1.25 for an equivalent amount of data.
Other East African countries stand at US$2.10 (Burundi) and US$1.56 (Uganda) while Kenya which was second last year, currently charges US$2.25 up from US$1.04.
These statistics, released by the British Technology research firm Cable also showed that Somalia no longer offers the cheapest rates for mobile internet in Africa. The country has since moved to position three as Sudan and Algeria are number one and two on the continent respectfully.
Sudan charges US$0.27, which is the cheapest in Africa and fifth in the world. Algeria, Africa’s second charges US$0.51 while Somalia (third) charges US$0.60
According to the report, globally Israel (US$0.05) tops the list as the country with the lowest data prices while Kyrgyzstan comes in second at US$0.15.
Consumer telecom analyst at Cable Dan Howdle said countries with affordable data rates have infrastructure that supports mobile and fixed broadband internet connectivity. This enables service providers to offer large amounts of data which significantly brings down the price of each gigabyte.
“Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data,” he said. Equatoria Guinea, which is found in central Africa and is ruled with an iron fist has the most expensive data coming in at astonishing US$49.67 per gigabyte. Other expensive countries include Falkland Islands ($44.56), Saint Helena ($39.87), São Tomé and Príncipe ($30.97) and Malawi ($25.46).
On the other hand, countries that have established 4G and 5G supporting infrastructure fall on the cheaper side of the spectrum.
This is because mobile data plans have escalated far beyond the 1-10GB per month median, offering instead plans with caps in the hundreds of gigabytes, or even completely unlimited.
The cost per gigabyte in these countries will therefore tend to be low. Though the United Kingdom (US$1.42) is placed 78th in the world while the United States averages at US$3.33 for a gigabyte of data and took the 154th position.
“Since populations in developed countries can afford to pay more, and network infrastructure costs that much more to own and run and provided they haven’t reached the ‘excellent infrastructure’ category where data limits are beyond normal usage or entirely unlimited, data pricing drifts towards the global average.” He explained.