“Everything I do revolves around using the internet. I mostly make calls using the internet. I mostly use the internet for text. One fine day I will watch videos online,” Kita said.
However, Kita, a businessman and press officer, has days to do without the internet. Malawi has one of the most expensive mobile internet rates in Africa.
“One good day, I spend three dollars a day for a data bundle,” she says. But she could never bear it.
Kita estimates that going online costs a total of $ 70 (56) per month. “Mobile data pricing is definitely a challenge for many Malawians.”
Mobile data is expensive only in the United States
Cost is a challenge for many Africans. According to a survey conducted by British providers Cable UK, African providers charge an average of 30 3.30 per gigabyte.
If people show that the ratio is even higher in Africa due to lower revenues and mobile phone prices in general, ”said Martin Shopper of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) . He regularly analyzes developments in the telecommunications market. Accordingly, prices in Africa are very high compared to other parts of the world, especially compared to industrialized countries.
However the tendency for positive adjustment. “It’s more affordable in most parts of Africa, especially when you look at the cost of data compared to per capital gross national income,” Shopper said.
Excess of Malawi
Malawi is the best example of inflation. According to Cable UK, one gigabyte of mobile data here costs an average of .1 27.41. The United Nations recommends that this data not exceed 2% of GDP. The equivalent price in Malawi is 87%.
The price of benin and the charge is significantly different from the UN recommendation. Even there, mobile internet is many times more expensive than appropriate depending on the economic strength of the country.
Many reasons for the high price
Infrastructure is a major expense for providers: “They had to upgrade from 2G to 3G to 4G and now to 5G,” said Shopper, a UN telecommunications expert. “It requires sustainable investment and refinancing. What’s more, access to many parts of Africa is difficult – infrastructure there is very expensive.”
Shopper noted another important factor that there are a small number of competitors in the market: “If there is only one or two providers in a country, there is not much incentive for them to cut prices,” he said.
The third factor is very difficult to prove with data: the price of mobile phones also depends on the policies of the individual country: “Is the government ready to help providers? Is the government ready to make public access more affordable and helpful? Remote areas” It is changing from country to country, “said Martin Shopper. .
Ethiopia is an exception because its mobile telephony is in the hands of the people. Private sector competition for state-owned “Ethotelecom” is not allowed.
Who are the providers?
It depends on who the provider is. With the languages of pre-colonial powers widely spoken in Africa, it is easy for European companies such as Vodafone, Orange, Altis Portugal or Indian Airtel to conquer markets. However, during this time, even large African providers such as MTN from Nigeria or Telcom from South Africa have established themselves in many countries on the continent.
“It’s clear they have an advantage over [large, multinational providers],” Shopper said: “They have the knowledge, they have the personal infrastructure, they know the pricing.” One downside is that they have no problem replacing smaller, local rivals: “In fact it negatively affects prices,” Shopper said. In addition, there are competition restrictions in countries that favor state-owned enterprises.
Malawi is expected to improve
In August, the Malawian government announced the first step in reviving the market. President Lazarus Chaquera hopes to license a third party operator with Airtel Malawi and TNM. This is tied to the hope that mobile data will eventually become more affordable. Like Tabu Kitta they never have to worry about being allowed to use a smartphone.