Is mobile data (still) expensive in South Africa?

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Mobile Data in South Africa | Digital South Africa Today - Banner

The content series supporting Digital South Africa Today 2022 – an initiative that is meant to demonstrate that digital data is the new gold waiting to be mined for Mzansi – is gaining a steady momentum, both in terms of volume and content types, and this is great.

About this eNsight

I present digital data to address a question that is more than a decade old, about the cost of mobile data in South Africa, by breaking it down into two sub-questions:

  1. Is the price of mobile data still high in Mzansi?
    To address this sub-question, I go through the country’s CPI stats to compare consumer price inflation of mobile data with national average, and the following selected essential services – water, health, education, public transport and electricity – over a 10-year period between 2008 an 2018, as found in the StatsSA report
  2. If South Africa’s mobile data pricing is high, what is it compared to, to arrive at such conclusion? 
    To address this sub-question, I compare the price of 1GB of mobile data between South Africa and all the other African countries, based on the latest global mobile data pricing report that was released in early 2021.

Using a video format, I share rich digital data from the 2 sources above.

In addition, I use a market example to show that mobile data prices could have been trending downwards in the last few years.

Here goes.

My conclusion?

Based on my analysis that is captured in the video above, mobile data was expensive in South Africa more than 10 years ago.

However, this is not the case anymore, thanks to effective price competition campaigns by smaller players – first, Cell C (that I call David, fighting the Goliaths Vodacom and MTN) and lately, Rain (Robin Hood) –  in Mzansi’s mobile telecoms market.

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