The cost of mobile internet in SSA

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This post originally appeared here on 29th December 2016 under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

I occasionally look at the cost of mobile internet in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). I thought it would be interesting to compare Ghana, Tanzania (both on the coast), and Zambia (landlocked).

The wisdom is that landlocked countries pay more for internet. However, it turns out that Ghana is somewhat more expensive at £2.30 per gigabyte (on a 10GB MTN bundle), while in Tanzania this costs £1.31 perGB (Vodafone 10GB bundle) and in Zambia £2.01 per GB (Vodafone 10GB bundle). So Zambia is more expensive than Tanzania (which makes sense), but it’s strange that Ghana is more expensive than Tanzania. Maybe this is the result of differences in quality between the East and West African fibre cables.

You can look at the data (and sources) here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16nxEy_MI7YBp1EyksNEuTTOZt2Y8XmV4pNAAavZN9YA/edit?hl=en#gid=0

Interestingly providers are now increasingly offering 4G, including MTN Ghana. They do offer an unlimited bundle for £28.71 per 30 days as well, which is attractive (especially given that at present the 4G service is very fast with little contention). It will be interesting to know what the ‘fair use’ clause on this is, and to see how long this lasts, as more and more people switch to it. This page [1] has coverage for MTN 4G in Ghana, while this page [2] has coverage for vodafone 4G in Tanzania.It is also interesting to compare this to UK prices, e.g. £15/20 for 5GB/15GB (£3 per GB, £1.33 per GB) on vodafone (http://www.vodafone.co.uk/shop/bundles-and-sims/sim-only-data-bundles/index.htm). However, some providers only offer small bundles in the UK (e.g. 1GB) which can then be more expensive (say, £7.50 for 1GB). With increasing internal and foreign investment in telecommunications in SSA, it remains to be seen how prices will change with variance in availability and signal quality.

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Dr Björn Haßler is the founding director of Open Development & Education.
For more details see https://opendeved.net/team/bjoern-hassler/.

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