Broadband costs remain highest in Africa
A basic broadband connection is most expensive in Africa of all the regions around the world. This is according to an update of the 2017 Affordability Report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) which the internet lobby group says it compiled using more recent pricing and income data. “While the Asia-Pacific region boasts the most affordable broadband – 1GB of data costs citizens, on average, 2.5% of monthly income – not one of the regions surveyed meets the “1 for 2” target.
Costs remain highest in Africa, with 1GB costing 9.3% of a citizen’s average income; however, Africa also experienced the most significant cost reductions of any region – an average drop of 3.2 percentage points across the continent drove most of the global improvement in affordability seen in this data,” reads an excerpt from a statement issued by A4AI. A4AI first announced its “1 for 2” affordability threshold which requires for 1GB of mobile prepaid data to cost no more than 2% of average monthly income in its 2015-16 Affordability Report. The organisation believes meeting this yardstick would enable all income groups to afford a basic broadband connection.
The latest research shows some African countries have met the target. Arch. Sunday Echono, Permanent Secretary for Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu endorsed the affordability target during a speech he delivered on behalf of the Minister during an A4AI-Nigeria Coalition meeting in January.
“Consequently, A4AI and the Ministry share the common goal to make the Internet universally affordable for all who want to use it. This goal is quantified in a measure of having 1 Gigabyte of bandwidth not costing more than 2% of a person’s monthly income,” said Echono. The updated A4AI report shows that the cost of 1GB in Nigeria currently stands at 1.57% of income.
Ghana was second to Nigeria with its endorsement of the affordability target in April after an announcement by Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications for Ghana that the country would start working toward reducing internet costs. This is yet to materialise as the latest data shows 1GB in that country costs 4.11% of average income. Egypt has the lowest cost for 1GB on the continent at 0.47% of income.
A Gigabyte of data in Africa is most expensive in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mali among others. A4AI also revealed that it may modify its affordability target in the near future so that it is a more accurate assessment. “Mobile network operators in some countries are responding to the issue of income inequality through market segmentation – i.e., by offering very small plans (50MB or 100MB) or very big plans (2GB and above).
One implication of this trend is that using a single price point (e.g., 1GB) to assess affordability might not be appropriate for all countries, and having additional price points (e.g., low, medium, high) will be useful — something we will explore in further updates.”
A4AI adds that while prices are dropping globally, affordability continues to be a major obstacle to access that is compounded by high levels of income inequality.
The organisation has the support of ICT companies that include Google, Facebook and Cisco.