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The cost of 1GB mobile data around the world

holding phone

Everyone is thinking it, we may as well be the first to answer the question: When I leave Zimbabwe, which country has the cheapest mobile data packages I can buy? (Disclaimer: Techzim is patriotic, it’s right there in the name.)

We decided to look at the average mobile data prices from around our little blue globe. The data cost for some countries (Zimbabwe included) cannot be calculated easily because of economic issues that lead to an unstable currency whose value cannot be determined easily. Other countries that fall into this category are Venezuela, South Sudan, Vatican City, Congo, Eritrea, North Korea and some other lesser-known territories. For Zimbabwe, we used the official foreign currency exchange rate.

The mobile data packages considered were only monthly packages. We took the 1GB bundle or the nearest volume. For providers without a 1GB bundle like the local provider ZOL, we calculated the cost from their cheapest bundle.

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Factors that determine the cost of data:

  1. Infrastructure

Infrastructure is the highest determining factor for the cost of data. Zimbabwe does not have a dedicated internet data provider or connection so to speak, hence we rely on Econet/Liquid Telecoms, ZOL, TelOne and Government Internet Service Provider (GISP) who rely on someone else’s infrastructure. This means for such countries, the connectivity cost is quite high and that cost is passed down to us as consumers.

This lack of infrastructure has also been a limiting factor in the flow of investment from the global community in industries that rely heavily on the internet. This gap is seemingly widening as some countries are already going past the 4G phase into 5G while Zimbabwe still has 2G facilities in parts of the country. Some territories still have no connectivity at all with only SMS/call infrastructure.

  • Disposable income of the population

In countries with thriving economies, goods and services tend to be priced higher since the average Joe (and Jane) can afford to pay for it. This economic rule also applies to internet data and Germany is a shining example of this.

  • Data consumption level

In Zimbabwe, there are very few people who use internet data (we do not consider social media bundles here). This low consumption leads to smaller data bundle packages from Internet Service Providers (ISPs). When you purchase a 1GB bundle in such an environment, you tend to spend more compared to countries with higher data consumption.

We’ve created a fancy infographic to better illustrate the data price comparisons. Also note that we only included some of the easiest countries one can emigrate to from Zimbabwe or countries one may wish to start a new life in. There are a few noteworthy countries that have been included such as Israel and Kyrgyzstan due to the prices of their data which is either very low or very high.

From the infographic above we can see that most countries lie below the $5 line making data quite affordable if you do decide to drop by any of them. Our very own Zimbabwe sits at $3.70 which is cheaper than South Africa. Data in Zimbabwe has become cheaper compared to previous years. The problem for most is that getting our hands on United States Dollars to buy the data is quite difficult.

What we can tell you with 100% certainty is not to even think of moving to Malawi.


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16 thoughts on “The cost of 1GB mobile data around the world

  1. How about comparing 1Gb data cost to average income of average Joe and Jane per country. Perhaps it would give better picture.

  2. There was a period when we used the stable us$ as ou currency in Zimbabwe. Did that make or prompt our Data provider make the data any cheaper? We just have a whole bunch of greedy business people in Zimbabwe period!

  3. Very insightful article. Thanks. We still have the cheapest DATA in Zimbabwe. This is what many people dont know neither do they research like what u did.!

  4. Thanks for the article. Well researched. Zimbabwe despite of the economy and inflation. It has the cheapest DATA all over.

  5. Rising inflation, which has remained elevated since last year, and a weakening local currency have seen most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) struggle not only for profitability but just to keep their businesses running & yet bench marking with other nations Zim has the cheapest. Apo ZImbabwe has the highest inflation second from Venezuela.

  6. Mounting Costs, Soaring Inflation Threaten The Telecommunications Industry. If the truth be told, we are in a mess as a country, worse still the lock downs lol. This is too much. No forex to import equipment. It’s very critical. The decadence is enormous. Zim will soon close & we are still charging this less in comparison.

  7. The Zimbabwean dollar is losing yet mo & mo ground against the US dollar and other currencies. This is affecting various sectors within the country. What a surprise to see that this Southern African country is not on the top list of the most expensive countries with high data prices in the world. Zimbabwe is charging less in these conditions. Very interesting.

  8. The Zimbabwean dollar is losing yet mo & mo ground against the US dollar and other currencies. This is affecting various sectors within the country. What a surprise to see that this Southern African country is not on the top list of countries with high data prices in the world. Zimbabwe is charging less in these conditions. Very interesting.

  9. The cost of doing business in Zimbabwe has remained elevated for much longer than in other markets in the region and the world at large and we are still affordable.

  10. The cost of doing business in Zimbabwe has remained elevated for much longer than in other markets in the region and the world at large hence, we are still very much affordable.

  11. Article ignores very important factors such as the quality of the internet connection as well. Toll gate fees are higher in SA than Zimbabwe why?, because they have better road networks. The high fees going to the tolls is eventually offset by lower car repair fees as cars travel on a good road system. Comparison should look at promos and data providers like rain in SA who offer unlimited 4g data from something like R500r or R600 , less than usd40 at speeds much better than we have here in Zim… nothing is cheap about Zimbabwean data…

    1. The qualify of internet connectivity was not considered yes. As one point I thought to include it but cost does not inherently translate to quality as your toll fees example. Internet speeds on average are fathoms better in America and Japan than India; but 1GB in India costs only $0.10 compared to USA at $8.00. The same applies to Botswana where data is ~$14 but is still at slower speeds compared to cheaper but faster internet in European countries.

      Also note I chose not to look at data promotion because they are not accessible to everyone. For example, the 2GB YoMix bundle form Econet can cost ZWL$90 for you and twice that for me. Promotions are also not a good benchmark to measure the cost of goods as they tend to appear and disappear at the whims of company managers.

  12. We tend to forget the disposal income available. But when a worker earns less that USD50 that has to cover other costs such as rent, food etc that USD3.70 is very very expensive. In USA where average salary can be USD5000, USD8 is actually very cheap. Malawi I don’t know hangu.

  13. No, this article is not accurate, a gb of data costs less than a USD in both the usa and canada, others are far lower than stated. Also, you are comparing zim price for a gig which expires in 24 hours, mist data purchase last 14 days (RSA) or 30 days (USA, UK, Canada and virtually everywhere but Africa). No, a fair comparison says Econet is charging an obscene amount for 600 mb.

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