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Digital Inclusion

Sub-Saharan Africa has world's most expensive data prices

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Sub-Saharan Africa still has the most expensive data prices in the world. The region has six out of the ten most expensive countries in the world for 1GB of mobile data, including the highest priced, Equatorial Guinea; with Sudan the only African country among the top ten cheapest in the world.

This according to the Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021 report from Cable.co.uk, which compared the cost of 1GB of mobile data across 6,148 mobile data plans in 230 countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa ranked as the most expensive region with the average price for 1GB of mobile data coming in at $6.44. Next most expensive was Oceania at $5.51 and then South America at $5.25.

Average regional price of 1GB of mobile data
Source: Cable.co.uk's Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021 report.

The data was gathered and analyzed by Cable.co.uk between December 8, 2020, and February 25, 2021.

Out of all African countries only Sudan featured in the top ten cheapest counties in the world, in 5th place, with 1GB of mobile data costing $0.27 on average.

The region also has some of the priciest data in the world, with Equatorial Guinea the most expensive ($49.67) in 230th place. It is followed by Saint Helena ($39.87), São Tomé and Príncipe ($30.97), Malawi ($25.46), Chad ($23.33) and Namibia ($22.37) at the bottom of the table.

African data prices
Source: Cable.co.uk's Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021 report.

Northern affordability

On the other end of the spectrum is North Africa with the cheapest regional average of just $1.53 per GB.

All but one of the seven North African countries are in the cheapest half of the table.

Algeria is the cheapest in North Africa at $0.51 per GB and 16th cheapest in the world. North Africa's most expensive country was Mauritania ($5.56), the only country in the region to exceed the global average of $4.07.

"Many of the cheapest countries in which to buy mobile data fall roughly into one of two categories. Some have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure and so providers are able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that’s what people can afford," said Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk.

Israel came out as the cheapest country in which to buy mobile data, with the average cost of 1GB at just $0.05. The most expensive country, Equatorial Guinea, was nearly a thousand times more expensive than Israel with 1GB costing $49.67.

"At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where often the infrastructure isn't great but also where consumption is very small. People are often buying data packages of just tens of megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large and therefore expensive amount of data to buy.

"Many countries in the middle of the list have good infrastructure and competitive mobile markets, and while their prices aren't among the cheapest in the world they wouldn't necessarily be considered expensive by its consumers," Howdle added.

Somalia and Ghana ranked well in 22nd and 27th place respectively while Nigeria was not far behind in 43rd place. Kenya was further down the list in 118th place and South Africa fared poorly in 136th place.

Africa's rankings

Data source: Cable.co.uk's Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021 report.
Data source: Cable.co.uk's Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021 report.

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*Top image source: Cable.co.uk's Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing 2021 report.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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