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Comparing African post-paid mobile broadband prices

October 1, 2012  »  Broadband & Mobile & StatisticsNo Comment

This is the second 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 post-paid mobile broadband plans available in 21 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. Additionally, keep in mind most consumers utilize pre-paid mobile plans. Full data can be found on Google Fusion Tables. Costs are listed in US Dollars and are current as of July 2012.

Cheapest possible plans:

  • $0.69, Sudan (Sudani One 100MB)
  • $0.95, Tanzania (Airtel 3G 25MB)
  • $1.06, South Africa (Vodacom 10MB)
  • $1.26, Tanzania (Vodacom 50MB)
  • $1.32, Angola (Unitel 25MB)
  • $1.66, Egypt (Mobinil 55MB)

Cheapest plan over 100MB usage:

  • Sudan, $1.72 (Sudani One 400MB)
  • Rwanda, $4.94 (MTN 250MB)
  • Tanzania, $5.06 (Vodacom 500MB)
  • Ghana, $5.32 (MTN 300MB)
  • Madagascar, $7.03 (Telma 200MB)

Cheapest listed plan cost by country (difficult to compare):

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

  • Sudan, $0.69 (100MB)
  • Tanzania, $0.95 (25MB)
  • South Africa, $1.06 (10MB)
  • Angola, $1.32 (25MB)
  • Egypt, $1.66 (55MB)
  • Kenya, $1.75 (100MB)
  • Niger, $1.89 (20MB) – 2x cost of Tanzania
  • Mozambique, $3.26 (30MB)
  • Nigeria, $3.75 (100MB) – 2x cost of Kenya
  • Rwanda, $4.94 (250MB)
  • Ghana, $5.32 (300MB) – similar to Rwanda per MB
  • Madagascar, $7.03 (200MB)
  • Benin, $9.46 (50MB) – expensive given low data usage
  • Morocco, $11.16 (5GB)
  • Malawi, $11.90 (500MB)
  • Tunisia, $15.53 (7.5GB)
  • Cote d’Ivoire, $18.91 (unlimited)
  • Algeria, $23.52 (unlimited)
  • Mali, $34.31 (1GB)
  • Sierra Leone, $40.87 (unlimited)
  • Cameroon, $47.29 (unlimited)

The last five countries’ plans are relatively expensive given the difficulty in achieving high data usage on low speeds.

3G/3.5G comparison:

A typical 3G monthly post-paid plan for 500MB of data runs in the $8-12 range (similar to the $20 for 1GB pre-paid 3G). 500MB plans in Mozambique, Madagascar, and Niger are expensive, at $22-28.

  • Tanzania $0.95 for 25MB (Airtel)
  • Niger $1.89 for 20MB (Orange)
  • Mozambique $3.26 for 30MB (Vodacom)
  • Rwanda $4.94 for 250MB (MTN)
  • Ghana $5.32 for 300MB (MTN)
  • Madagascar $7.03 for 200MB (Telma)
  • Morocco $11.16 for 5GB (IAM)
  • Malawi $11.90 for 500MB (TNM)
  • Tunisia $15.53 for 7.5GB (Orange)

Price variation given similar plans:

Competition doesn’t appear to keep post-paid prices in check.

  • Egypt 500MB: $8.28 for Etisalat or $8.28 for Vodafone or $9.93 for Mobinil
  • Algeria unlimited: $23.52 for Mobilis or $32.66 for Nedjma
  • Madagascar 500MB: $12.42 for Telma or $22.97 for Orange
  • Mozambique 500MB: $16.48 for mCel or $21.94 for Vodacom
  • Rwanda 500MB: $8.23 for MTN or $16.46 for Tigo
  • South Africa 500MB: $12.84 for Cell C & Virgin or $17.55 for Vodacom
  • Tanzania 500MB: $5.06 for Vodacom or $7.59 for Airtel

A future post will look at 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.