A report released on Monday has confirmed what South Africans have long suspected: we are paying too much for data.
The Competition Commission unveiled its data service market inquiry final report which recommended service providers reduce the price of data or face prosecution.
It found that data prices in South Africa are excessive, and that the market is highly dominated by Vodacom and MTN.
Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele Bonakele said the two companies should immediately lower prices by between 30% and 50%, and that if they failed to do so within two months, they could face prosecution.
But just how does the price of data in South Africa compare with other African countries where the big two players – Vodacom and MTN – are also active?
In addition to South Africa, Vodacom also provides services to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania.
When measuring the average cost of 1GB of Vodacom data, the commission’s report revealed that South Africans are paying $7.83, second only to the DRC where 1GB costs $8. By contrast, in Lesotho the cost is $4.91, Tanzania $4.34 and Mozambique just $2.19.
Meanwhile, for MTN, which operates in more than 15 other African countries, the average cost of 1GB of its data in South Africa is $10.08, almost double the next on the list of Rwanda at just $5.36, followed by Liberia ($4), Ghana ($3.57), Nigeria ($2.77), Zambia ($2.75) and Uganda ($2.71).
These findings correlate closely to a study conducted by UK firm Cable.co.uk, a site which compares broadband prices.
It compared the cost of 1GB of mobile data across 6,313 mobile data plans in 230 countries during October and November 2018.
Of these 230 countries, South African data costs ranked at 143, with an average of $7.19, contrasted with the cheapest cost found in India of a mere $0.26.
This is what 1GB of data costs in the African countries in which South Africa’s big two are active, according to the study:
South Africa $7.19
Benin (not available)
Republic of Congo $5.63
Guinea Bissau $4.96
Ivory Coast $4.10
South Africa $7.19
South Sudan $20.99