#DataMustFall mobile prices misleading

The #DataMustFall campaign gained great traction this month, and formed part of hearings into high mobile data prices at Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services.

Many #DataMustFall campaigners argued that South African mobile data prices were very high, with some quoting comparative prices of 1GB of data in India, Nigeria, and Namibia to substantiate their point.

So successful was the campaign, that Mmamoloko Kubayi, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, said the operators have a month to ‘get their act together’.

“Either they trim data costs, or the National Assembly will order them to do so,” The Star reported her as saying.

But let’s take a look at the comparative mobile data prices which many of the arguments are based on, which are listed below.

  • India – R11 per GB
  • Nigeria – R22 per GB
  • Namibia – R32 per GB
  • South Africa – R149 per GB

These prices were shared numerous times by #DataMustFall campaigners, and were widely reported on in the mainstream media.

There is just one big problem: these data prices, for which the source is challenging to find, are misrepresenting the facts.

Apart from a strange selection of countries, the prices listed per country for 1GB of data looks wrong.

While South Africa’s mobile data is still relatively expensive when compared to India, Nigeria, and Namibia, it is not as bad as the mystery figures suggest.

The table below provides a more accurate view of mobile data prices in these three countries, based on the latest prices from the largest operators in these countries.

Prepaid Mobile Data Prices
Operator Country Prepaid Data Package Price
Vodacom South Africa 1GB R149
MTN South Africa 1.5GB R160
Telecom Namibia Namibia 1GB R139
MTC Namibia 1.5GB R219
Airtel India 1GB R50
Vodafone India 1GB R61
MTN Nigeria 1.5GB R43
Globacom Nigeria 2GB R43
Postpaid Mobile Data Prices
Operator Country Postpaid Data Package Price
Vodacom South Africa 1GB R75
MTN South Africa 1GB R79
Telecom Namibia Namibia 1GB R149
MTC Namibia 1.5GB R219
Airtel India 1GB R51
Vodafone India 1GB R51
MTN Nigeria 1.5GB R43
Globacom Nigeria 2GB R43

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#DataMustFall mobile prices misleading