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Comparing African pre-paid mobile broadband plans

September 24, 2012  »  Broadband & Mobile & Statistics5 Comments

This is the first post in a series of three using data from the Google Policy by the Numbers International Broadband Pricing Study.

A first-of-its-kind research project (conducted by Communications Chambers) found price observations for nearly 1,500 global fixed broadband plans from 93 countries and nearly 2,200 mobile broadband plans from 106 countries. The goal of the project is to further lower the cost of Internet access for users.

We went through the raw data and filtered by African country to compare costs of pre-paid mobile broadband plans available in 27 nations. Comparing plans among different countries, let alone different domestic operators proves extremely challenging. Plans vary by both duration of validity and data limitations. On top of that, technology (2G, 3G, 3.5G) plays a role in cost. To keep our analysis as “apples to apples” as possible, we sorted the data into categories based on these factors. Please note the limitations of the data listed at the bottom of the post. Full data can be found on Google Fusion Tables. Costs are listed in US Dollars and are current as of July 2012.

Cheapest possible plan:

  • $0.03, Ghana (Airtel pay as you go 1MB)
  • $0.05, Angola (Unitel Net light 1MB)
  • $0.06, Kenya (Safaricom PrePay 4MB)
  • $0.08, Kenya (yu 10MB 3G)
  • $0.13, Tanzania (Airtel Hourly 3G)
  • $0.15, Zimbabwe (Econet Default 1MB)

Cheapest daily plan:

East Africa generally has the lowest daily plan pricing.

  • $0.08, Kenya (yu 10MB)
  • $0.17, Egypt (Mobinil 5MB)
  • $0.20, Uganda (MTN 20MB)
  • $0.20, Uganda (Orange 20MB)
  • $0.28, Tanzania (tiGO 20MB 3G)
  • $0.32, Tanzania (Airtel 3G)
  • $0.32, Tanzania (Zantel 30MB)

Cheapest pack cost by country (note: difficult to compare since MB & duration vary):

Reflects the cheapest plan included in the dataset, regardless of data or duration. In general, no more than 3 operators per country were included, so others may offer a slightly cheaper plan than listed here.

  • Ghana, $0.03 (1MB)
  • Angola, $0.05 (1MB)
  • Kenya, $0.06 (4MB)
  • Tanzania, $0.13 (1 hour)
  • Zimbabwe, $0.15 (1MB)
  • Egypt, $0.17 (5MB)
  • Zambia, $0.19 (1MB)
  • Uganda, $0.20 (20MB)
  • Malawi, $0.24 (12MB)
  • South Africa, $0.24 (1MB)
  • Nigeria, $0.31 (4MB)
  • Mali, $0.38 (5MB)
  • Benin, $0.47 (10MB, 1 hour)
  • Sierra Leone, $0.50 (5MB)
  • Burkina Faso, $0.57 (1 day)
  • Niger, $0.57 (30 min)
  • Madagascar, $0.94 (20MB, 1 day)
  • Senegal, $0.95 (1 hour)
  • Togo, $0.95 (2 hours)
  • Morocco, $1.13 (1 day)
  • Tunisia, $1.24 (2 days)
  • Algeria, $1.31 (15MB)
  • Rwanda, $1.32 (2GB)
  • Chad, $1.51 (30MB)
  • Cameroon, $1.89 (1 day)
  • Libya, $4.69 (50MB)

Most expensive pack cost by country:

In general, 20GB plans are the costliest. However, Millicom Tchad’s 5GB plan is relatively expensive.

  • South Africa: $1,085.98 Cell C & Virgin 60GB yearly
  • South Africa: $376.80 Vodacom 20GB
  • Sierra Leone: $250 Airtel 20GB monthly
  • Uganda: $163.31 MTN 10GB monthly
  • Zambia: $146.20 Zamtel 20GB 90 days
  • Kenya: $134.18 Safaricom 25GB 90 days
  • Chad: $94.57 Millicom Tchad 5GB

Monthly 3G/3.5G comparison:

A typical 3G monthly pre-paid plan for 1GB of data runs in the $20 range. Libyana oddly offers a miniscule 100MB 3G plan. MTN Rwanda is notable for offering unlimited monthly data for under $35. At $47 per month, Orange Niger’s pre-paid plan can be considered extremely expensive given the nation’s income levels.

  • Libya $7.81 for 100MB (Libyana)
  • Ghana $15.96 for 1.5GB (Vodafone)
  • Nigeria $18.76 for 1GB (Glo)
  • Zambia $21.56 for 1GB (Zamtel)
  • Tanzania $22.12 for 3GB (tiGO)
  • Morocco $22.55 for 1 month (INWI)
  • Malawi $23.81 for 1.5GB (TNM)
  • Mozambique $27.47 for 1GB (mCel)
  • Rwanda $34.57 for unlimited (MTN)
  • Niger $47.29 for 4GB (Orange)

Price variation given similar plans:

Proof that competition keeps prices and offerings in check.

  • Ghana: $0.53 for either MTN 25MB or Vodafone 30MB
  • Nigeria: $0.63 for either Glo 10MB or MTN 10MB
  • Rwanda: $1.32 for Tigo 3.5G 2GB all day or $1.65 MTN 3G unlimited daily
  • Tanzania (3G): $0.28 for tiGO 20MB daily or $0.32 Airtel daily or $0.32 Zantel 30 MB daily
  • Uganda: $0.20 for either MTN or Orange 20MB

Comparison for equal data & duration plans

Unlimited 1 day: Togo Cell’s plan is notably more expensive than others.

  • Togo: $2.84 Togo Cell
  • Rwanda: $1.65 MTN
  • Kenya: $0.46 yu

10GB 1 month: Pricing is not all that different across four nations (three regions).

  • Mozambique: $84.25 mCel
  • Malawi: $71.43 Airtel
  • Ghana: $63.83 MTN
  • Tanzania: $62.58 tiGO

5GB 1 month: Zantel Tanzania’s plan is substantially cheaper than others (1/2 Orange Senegal, 1/4 Millicom Tchad).

  • Chad: $94.57 Millicom Tchad
  • Senegal: $47.49 Orange
  • Tanzania: $25.48 Zantel

1GB 1 month:

  • Nigeria: $21.89 MTN
  • Nigeria: $18.76 Airtel
  • Uganda: $18.15 Orange

200MB 1 month:

  • Nigeria: $6.25 Etisalat
  • Ghana: $2.66 Airtel

Future posts will look at post-paid mobile broadband and fixed broadband prices found in African nations.

About the data source: Data has been gathered by visiting operator websites in July 2012. Not all countries made the list; only nations with greater than 5 million people were considered. Data for at least three fixed and three mobile operators was gathered. In countries with more than three operators, only the largest operators with available data were included. Mobile pricing inclusion emphasized non-bundled plans without modem. There are a number of practical constraints, including time, determining the leading operators in each country, and the ability of Google Translate to provide useful information. As the consultancy points out, “nothing should be read into the omission of a certain ISP or price plan from this database.” Additional explanatory notes from the study can be found here.