What 1GB of mobile data in SA can buy you elsewhere

Research ICT Africa recently released a new report which shows that while mobile data prices are on a steep decline in most African countries, they have been constant in South Africa at R149 for 1GB in 2014.

The research firm, which conducts research on ICT policy and regulation, tracked the price of 1GB of mobile data across 21 African countries.

The results showed that South Africa’s mobile data prices are not declining as fast as many other countries on the continent.

It further shows that dynamic bundling in other countries such as Namibia has not yet been offered by South African operators.

MTC in Namibia offers a prepaid product, Aweh Aweh Gig, that requires a weekly activation fee of R30 for which the user gets 700 minutes, 700 SMS messages, and 1 GB of data.

This translates to R120 per month for 2,800 minutes, 2,800 SMS messages, and 4GB of data, which is less than what South Africans pay for 1GB of data.

“The model is quite simple: MTC is profitable at a price of R120 per user and does not care about how many minutes its customers use, or how many SMSes they send,” said Research ICT Africa.

“This gets close to the flat-rate pricing which is becoming more and more common in other markets.”

Q4 2014 USD Prices 1GB basket
Q4 2014 USD Prices 1GB basket

Value for Money Index

The Broadband Value for Money Index measures the average download and upload speeds as measured by the Net Index (Ookla), and divides this average by the price of 1GB of data use per month.

A higher ranking on the index is attained either because the average speed is higher, the price is lower, or both.

MTN Cameroon has, for example, the second lowest data price but due to poor download and upload speeds achieves a low ranking on the Value for Money Index. Cameroon does not yet offer mobile broadband but instead offers EDGE or 2.5G speeds.

Although Vodacom and MTN are among the more expensive operators in Africa, they fare well in terms of value for money and are among the top 10.

Cell C’s ranking has continued to drop since its initial 9th place in the first quarter of 2014, falling to 21st place in the second half of the year.

Value for money index
Value for money index

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What 1GB of mobile data in SA can buy you elsewhere