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Africa has the highest Broadband Cost of any region

by Felix Omondi
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The 2017 Affordability Report by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is out, and Africa is leading from the behind. The continent compared to other world regions has the most expensive broadband connection in the world.

The A4AI says the report was compiled using the most recent pricing and income data. An excerpt from their statement about the report reads: “While the Asia-Pacific region boasts the most affordable broadband – 1GB of data costs citizens, on average, 2.5% of their monthly income – not one of the regions surveyed meets the ‘1 for 2’ target. Costs remain highest in Africa, with 1GB costing 9.3% of a citizen’s average income; however, Africa also experienced the most significant cost reductions of any region; an average drop of 3.2% points across the continent drove most of the global improvement in affordability seen in this data.”

The ‘1 for 2’ affordability threshold by A4AI means 1GB of prepaid mobile data to cost less than 2% of user’s average monthly income. It is a measurement threshold the organization came up with the release of their 2015-2016 Affordability Report. A4AI believes meeting the ‘1 for 2’ would mean all income groups can comfortably afford basic broadband access.

The 2017 Affordability Report shows that some African countries have already achieved the ‘1 for 2’ yardstick measure for basic broadband connection.

Nigeria’s Permanent Secretary Ministry of Communication during an A4AI-Nigeria Coalition meeting early this year said: “Consequently, A4AI and the Ministry share the common goal to make the Internet universally affordable for all who want to use it. This goal is quantified in a measure of having 1 Gigabyte of bandwidth not costing more than 2% of a person’s monthly income.”

The report says that 1GB of data in Nigeria currently cost about 1.57% of the average user’s monthly income. Making Nigeria the leading sub-Saharan African country with the most affordable broadband connection.

Nigeria is followed by Ghana, which comes in at second place, though it has not achieved the ‘1 for 2’ threshold. Ghana’s 1GB prepaid mobile data currently costs 4.11% of the average income. Egypt has the most affordable broadband connection with 1GB of data costing 0.47% of the average income. Zimbabwe and Botswana are among the African countries where broadband costs the most.

However, A4AI did acknowledge a discrepancy in their assessment that could compromise on the accuracy of the report. The organization says: “Mobile network operators in some countries are responding to the issue of income inequality through market segmentation – i.e., by offering very small plans (50MB or 100MB) or very big plans (2GB and above). One implication of this trend is that using a single price point (e.g., 1GB) to assess affordability might not be appropriate for all countries, and having additional price points (e.g., low, medium, high) will be useful – something we will explore in further updates.”

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