Africa’s expensive internet hurts digital economy growth – TechCrunch
Africa’s expensive internet hurts digital economy growth – TechCrunch

Africa’s expensive internet hurts digital economy growth – TechCrunch

A new report detailing the cost of mobile data in different markets around the world shows why internet usage across much of Africa remains low despite rising broadband coverage.

The Worldwide Mobile Pricing 2022 report, which surveyed 233 countries, shows that five of the world’s 10 most expensive countries to buy mobile data are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mobile data is so expensive in these countries that 1GB of data costs at least $10, which is 250 times more expensive than Israel, the country with the cheapest data in the world.

In Sao Tome and Principe, 1GB of data costs $29, while in Botswana it costs $16. Togo ($13), Seychelles ($13) and Namibia ($11) are the other African countries with the most expensive data packages, hindering economic growth and job creation.

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Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at price comparison site, said in a statement: “At the more expensive end of the list we have countries where the infrastructure is often not great, but also where consumption is very low. “

“People often buy data packages of only ten megabytes at a time, which makes a gigabyte a relatively large amount of data and therefore expensive to buy,” he said.

Internet is cheapest in Ghana at $0.61, followed by Somalia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Eswatini, Kenya and Mauritius – where 1GB of mobile data costs less than a dollar. Clearly, affordable internet could explain the growth of digital economies in these countries, hence their appeal to venture capitalists and techies alike.

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In particular, the cost of mobile data has fallen significantly this year compared to last in Malawi ($26 to $2), Chad ($23 to $2) and Equatorial Guinea ($50 to $10) – knocking them off the list countries with the most expensive mobile data.

Why affordable internet is needed in Africa

Over the past eight years, the number of people connected to the internet in Africa has doubled to 28%, thanks to increased broadband coverage and smartphone penetration. However, more than half a billion (53%) people in regions with mobile broadband networks are still not connected due to high data costs, according to the 2021 State of the Mobile Internet report. in Africa from the GSMA, an umbrella organization representing mobile operators worldwide.

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However, that is likely to change as tech titans like Google and Meta invest heavily in infrastructure to bring what they say is fast and cheap internet to Africa.

Accessible internet and growing smartphone adoption, which is expected to grow from 64% last year to 75%, means Africa’s digital economy, currently valued at $115 billion and set to grow sixfold by 2050, according to the Endeavor report, it will have a ripple effect on other sectors of the economy.

For example, Endeavor predicts that 44 million jobs could be created if internet penetration reached 75%, a 2.5% increase in GDP per capita for every 10% increase in phone penetration mobile and global recognition and increased investment from tech giants and international investors.