How much it costs to own a cellphone: South Africa vs the world

The World Bank has compiled an index showing which countries in the world carry the highest and lowest monthly costs to own a mobile phone.

By - February 15, 2016 Share on LinkedIn
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The World Bank has compiled an index showing which countries in the world carry the highest and lowest monthly costs to own a mobile phone.

The index measures the monthly cost of running a mobile phone as a percentage of income, in US dollars as well as in purchasing power parity terms (excluding the cost of the phone).

The data is based on 2014 prices and rates.

According to the group, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the most expensive country to own a mobile phone, with almost 53% of gross national income (GNI) going to mobile phone costs.

This is followed by the Central African Republic (52%), Madagascar (50%) and Malawi (49%) which all occupy the halfway mark for phone costs in terms of GNI.

On the other side of the spectrum, Macao, China is the cheapest at only 0.1% of GNI on mobile phone costs. This is followed by Singapore, Hong Kong and Denmark (0.2%).

South Africa is the 71st cheapest out of 174 countries measured, with costs coming in at 1.66% of gross national income.

There are two other ways of looking at the data, however.

The first is in raw dollar terms – in which case Sri Lanka has the cheapest mobile phone usage costs, at $0.97 per month. In this metric, Tuvali and the Netherlands have the highest costs at $45.73 and $41.47, respectively.

South Africa has the 59th lowest costs at $10.23.

The other metric is in terms of purchasing power parity – prices adjusted to reflect localised market conditions (in dollar terms).

Here, Nicaraagua and Bulgaria carry the highest costs (at $78.21 and $63.03 respectively), while Sri Lanka maintains the lowest cost at $2.69. South Africa has the 87th lowest cost at $21.49.

Here is the data broken down by the three metrics

Cheapest and most expensive countries for mobile phones – Prices

# Country Price US$
1 Sri Lanka $0.97
2 Bangladesh $1.42
3 Iran $2.01
4 Pakistan $2.12
5 Nepal $2.49
59 South Africa $10.23
170 Spain $37.80
171 France $40.27
172 Ireland $40.33
173 Netherlands $41.47
174 Tuvalu $45.73

Cheapest and most expensive countries for mobile phones – PPP Prices

# Country Price PPP$
1 Sri Lanka $2.69
2 Bangladesh $4.01
3 Costa Rica $5.67
4 Iran $6.09
5 Denmark $6.58
87 South Africa $21.49
170 Cape Verde $54.55
171 Albania $56.01
172 Madagascar $58.25
173 Bulgaria $63.03
174 Nicaragua $78.21

Cheapest and most expensive countries for mobile phones – % of income

# Country % GNI
1 Macao, China 0.10%
2 Singapore 0.19%
3 Hong Kong, China 0.19%
4 Denmark 0.19%
5 Qatar 0.26%
71 South Africa 1.66%
170 Liberia 39.99%
171 Malawi 48.86%
172 Madagascar 50.45%
173 Central African Republic 51.64%
174 Democratic republic of Congo 52.76%

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