Zimbabwe, 3rd most expensive place in the world to make a mobile call


According to a report released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) last week, Zimbabwe has the most expensive mobile cellular tariffs in relative terms. Only Malawi and Niger have higher mobile tariffs. Mobile cellular tariffs are measured by the ITU in 165 economies and contribute as a sub-basket to the overall ICT Price Basket of an economy. The data used in the report was collected in 2010. You can download the report here.

Table: Mobile-cellular sub-basket, 2010 and 2008 (source: ITU report)

Zimbabwe’s mobile-cellular tariffs as a percentage of the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita are 68.3%. Niger’s is 73.4% and Malawi, the highest, is 91%.

The mobile cellular tariffs value is computed by adding the price of 30 outgoing calls (on-net, off-net and to a fixed line, and for peak, off peak and weekend periods) in predetermined ratios, to the price of 100 SMS messages and dividing the value by national average monthly GNI per capita.


Zimbabwe’s neighbours South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique have a mobile cellular sub-basket value of 4.8%, 2.5%, 4.8%, 20.8%, 46.2% respectively.

Economies with the lowest mobile tariffs as a percentage of the GNI per capita are Hong Kong (China), the UAE, Macao (China), Denmark and Liechtenstein. Hong Kong has a value of 0.1% while the rest have 0.2%.

The other sub-baskets contributing to the ICT Price Basket are the fixed telephone tariffs            and fixed broadband internet. Unfortunately, mobile broadband tariffs are currently don’t contribute to the ICT Price Basket value of an economy in the report.

Zimbabwe ranks the sixth most expensive country on fixed telephone tariffs and the third most expensive country on fixed broadband prices. Zimbabwe’s overall price basket value is 66.2 for the year 2010.

Across Zimbabwe’s three GSM operators on-net calls are charged at 23 US cents per minute and off-net calls at 25 US cents. An SMS message costs a subscriber 9 US cents. Zimbabwe’s GNI per capita value used in the report is USD 360.

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