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Rwanda and Burundi beat Kenya in Internet pricing

By People Reporter
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
Internet pricing.

John Otini

Kenya trails Rwanda and Burundi in the cost of mobile phone data in East Africa, a new a study has revealed. 

The data costs were arrived by computing the average of the least and most expensive data plans in 230 countries.

The Worldwide mobile data pricing:  The cost of 1GB of mobile data in 230 countries report shows that Rwanda has the least expensive Internet with the average cost in East Africa at $0.56 (Sh56.78) for a gigabyte (1GB) followed by Burundi at $2 (Sh202.80).

Statistics from 6,313 mobile data plans in the 230 countries gathered and analysed by cable.co.uk, a technology price comparison platform,  shows Kenya at a distant number 54 in the list with the average cost of 1GB at $2.73 (Sh276.82).

Rwanda and Sudan are the only two sub-Saharan Africa countries featuring among top 10 nations with the least expensive internet costs in the world,” says the report.

The most expensive plans are mainly offered in the remote areas via satellite connections. The cost of internet is one of the major items that affect the cost of doing business since internet is a vital communication infrastructure.

High cost of internet in Kenya has in earlier studies been blamed on a near-monopoly in the telcoms business by Safaricom, which controls more than half of the market.

The other reason is lack of a national fibre optic backbone on which new players without financial muscles can piggyback.

Kenya, this year, allocated resources to build the national fibre optic backbone.Countries with low fibre optic reach tended to have to high mobile internet costs.

According to report, in Ethiopia, the average cost if internet is Sh291 for 1GB while Tanzania is Sh593 with Uganda at Sh493.

Sub-Saharan Africa also lays claim to the most expensive nation in the world for mobile data in the name of Zimbabwe, whose average cost for 1GB of mobile data is an eye-watering Sh7,500.

The most expensive gigabyte is an even more shocking Sh13,800.The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) report last month showed that Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda have made  major policy and State-driven efforts in ensuring the cost of internet comes down.

Policy regulation

The three countries have ensured that policy regulation and nature of competition supports affordable internet access.

Contrary to what one might expect,the report indicates, 10 out of the top 50 cheapest countries in the world for mobile data are in sub-Saharan Africa. This is in stark contrast to the cost of broadband on the continent, which is almost universally very high or non-existent.

In North Africa the cheapest country in the region is Egypt, with an average of Sh149, followed by Morocco and Western Sahara (both Sh166).

Those three all make it into the world’s top 30 and even Algeria, the most expensive country in Northern Africa, still makes it into the top (cheapest) half worldwide with an average of Sh515.

Asian countries make up half of the top 20 cheapest in the world. India tops the list, with the average price of 1GB of mobile data $0.26, while the average price of 1GB is also less than a dollar in Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

At the other end of the table it may be surprising to see such a technologically advanced nation as South Korea ($15.12) with mobile data prices among the most expensive in the world. Large economies Japan and China are also among the most expensive in Asia.

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