Report: 8 of the World’s Top 50 Countries with Cheapest Mobile Data are from Sub-Saharan Africa

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Contrary to what one might expect, sub-Saharan Africa is among the top 5 regions with the cheapest internet in the world. Eight out of the top 50 countries in the world for affordable mobile data are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigeria currently ranks 10th in terms of affordable mobile data pricing in sub-Sahara Africa, according to a new survey by Cable.co.uk. The average price of 1gb of mobile data was pegged at N500 ($1.39) for the 52 data plans measured in the country.

The cheapest price of 1gb of data was recorded as N173.91 ($0.48) while the most expensive was N2,000 ($5.55). Somalia was ranked as the cheapest in the region with an average of $0.5 for 1gb of data.

Nigeria Ranks Among Top 10 Most Affordable Mobile Data Pricing in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sudan and Réunion complete the top 3 with an average price of $0.63 and $0.72 respectively. Tech hubs like Ghana and Kenya rank above Nigeria at 5th and 6th while Rwanda and South Africa fall below at 11th and 29th respectively.

Suggested read: Nigeria’s Mobile Data and Call Prices Dropped by 142% in 2019 but it’s Still too Expensive for Many

Mobile data in Sub-Saharan Africa is cheaper than Europe

In comparison, Europe’s Eastern and Western regions fall in the 7th and 8th globally. Africa’s Somalia is ranked number 7 on the list for countries with the cheapest mobile data plans, behind India, Israel, and Italy.

The five cheapest countries for mobile data in the world are India ($0.09), Israel ($0.11), Kyrgyzstan ($0.21), Italy ($0.43), and Ukraine ($0.46).

Nigeria Ranks Among Top 10 Most Affordable Mobile Data Pricing in Sub-Saharan Africa

Apart from Somalia, other Sub-Saharan countries closest to the top 10 are 13th placed Sudan, Reunion (22nd) and Tanzania (23rd). Africa’s giant, Nigeria ranked 58th out of the 228 countries measured. Its English-speaking neighbour, Ghana fared better ranking 38th globally.

Sub-Saharan Africa Dominates Top 10 Countries List

Despite having some of the countries with the cheapest mobile data in the world, the region also has some of the most expensive data rates. Countries from sub-Saharan Africa dominated the bottom pile representing 5 out of the ten most expensive countries to buy mobile data in the world.

The island nation of Saint Helena is the most expensive in the world ranking 228th with a jaw-dropping average cost of $52.50 for 1GB of mobile data.

Nigeria Ranks Among Top 10 Most Affordable Mobile Data Pricing in Sub-Saharan Africa

According to the report, the reason why island countries often have high data costs is due to low fibre infrastructure.

“Conversely to the most expensive, none of these countries are islands. Islands are less likely to have an extensive fibre infrastructure, and since mobile networks normally rely on connection to a fibre backbone, other more expensive solutions such as satellite uplink have had to be instituted – a cost passed on to the consumer.”

However, other mainland sub-Saharan countries like Malawi, Chad and Benin Republic who also fall in the bottom have no such excuses.

In comparison, Africa’s other region (North African) have just 2 of the 7 countries on the expensive side of the table.

Summary

The report shows that excellent fibre broadband infrastructure is important in making mobile data affordable to users across the globe.

Also, looking at Somalia as a case study in sub-Saharan Africa, there is every reason to believe that lower regulatory barriers can help push down the price of mobile data.

However, the lower cost of data might also often mean a lower broadband quality in these countries.


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