It’s been over a year since we last wrote about Zimbabwe’s mobile data prices in comparison with those of the rest of Africa. Though we did write about some mobile data price comparison a few months back comparing Zimbabwe to Kenya and South Africa.
Well from the last report, not much has changed according to Research ICT Africa’s report. According to them, Zimbabwe now has the 4th most expensive data, as opposed to being 3rd as we had been reported last year. Basically the change in position is attributed to Guinea Bissau which has joined the listing and occupied the position of 2nd most expensive mobile data.
The price of data in Guinea Bissau (still according to Research ICT Africa) is US$58.29 for 1 Gigabyte while South Sudan continues to take the lead, in fact, it’s even more expensive than the last time we reported. Now a Gigabyte of mobile data costs costs US$128.01 in Sudan compared to last year’s US$90.83. Third in place is Swaziland whose 1Gig mobile data costs US$35.26 which is also an increase compared to last year’s US$30.33. Then finally Zimbabwe at US$30 for 1Gigabyte of mobile data.
However, as initially indicated, these stats are according to the Research ICT Africa; on the ground things are bit different. As we know, we have three mobile network operators in Zimbabwe. Of the three MNOs, NetOne has the cheapest 1 Gigabyte mobile data which costs US$20. Meanwhile at US$20 Econet and Telecel give you 850MB and 800MB respectively.
Therefore, the US$30 for a Gig that is being used to compare by Research ICT Africa is no longer valid. This then means we are pushed down that list to at least 6th most expensive. Unfortunately now we cannot know for sure where we sit considering that this oversight (or not so up to date information) could also apply to a few more countries on that least.
Added to that, such comparison i.e. comparisons which just compare prices may be good enough in a country setup, but not so much when dealing with different economies as we would be when comparing different countries. I mean cheap or expensive are relative terms, in this case relative to the amount of disposable income the individuals in the country have.
Also, the availability and usage of alternative means of accessing the internet is a factor to consider. While in some countries like Zimbabwe mobile data is the most common way of accessing the internet as proven by the POTRAZ 2017 Q2 report, some countries in Africa might not have the same setup. Some countries might be more dependent on fixed internet more than on mobile data. If that be the case, then the whole idea of using mobile data to compare data prices and conclude how expensive or cheap acquiring data is in a country becomes somewhat a misrepresentation.
The other thing to note is that these mobile data prices are not inclusive of promotions or promotional packages for the sake of standardization. Of course if promotions are factored in a lot then changes since it goes without saying that most people would rather leverage on promotions than on the actual packages. But because promotions run for different periods in each country, it then becomes difficult to use that in carrying out such research since these promotional figures are highly volatile.
Nevertheless, you might still be interested to know which country has the cheapest mobile data in Africa according to the research. Well, it’s Tunisia. Tunisia’s 1 Gig of mobile data costs US$2.04 while Guinea’s slightly costs more i.e. US$2.20 and Tanzania’s is at US$2.27.