MTN Swaziland’s prepaid data costs are unaffordable

The common tale you hear from South African taxi drivers who do business in areas close to the 3 border gates with Swaziland, including Nelspruit; is that they prefer to fill up petrol in Sub Saharan Africa’s only monarchy because it is cheaper. However, facts indicate that this is not the case, as the current price of 1 litre of 95 Octane is R12.60 in Swaziland and R12.47 on the Reef – with the current E/R exchange rate at 1 to 1. Was petrol cheaper in Swaziland in the past? Maybe, but here are the depressing facts about this beautiful country that relate to the title…

MTN Swaziland’s prepaid data costs are astronomical

Being from South Africa, I avoid using mobile broadband international roaming services due to ridiculous associated costs. However, costs of using local mobile broadband services in Swaziland can be just as prohibitive, despite Mbabane – the Kingdom’s capital – being only 3 hrs away from Johannesburg where I am based.

For starters, it costs R30 for a MTN sim card in Swaziland. MTN happens to be the only mobile operator in this country of 1 million inhabitants. Compare that to R1 for a MTN sim card in South Africa! And it gets worse for a mobile data junkie like myself.

Mouse over the images to see country captions

Based on the advertised prices above, MTN’s cost of 1 MB is 26.6 cents in Swaziland, while it is 14.9 cents in South Africa. The difference in cost is 78.5%. It’s a pity that Swatis cannot cross into South Africa and buy MTN data as it will not work back in the Kingdom.

Here are some more facts…

Swaziland NEEDS to have cheaper mobile data

A 2012 study by Deloittes indicated that there is a direct correlation between mobile data usage and growth in GDP:

Deloitte Impact of Mobile Telephony Report 2012

According the World Bank’s 2012 report, Swaziland is in the top 5 poorest countries in the world. Thus, the Kingdom of the Swatis desperately needs to increase mobile data usage to assist in the alleviation of poverty of her people. But the currently out-of-kilter mobile data costs need to be reduced drastically if this is to happen. What is the possibility this will happen with MTN owning 100% of the mobile market?

Despite the depressing facts above, Swaziland is a sleeping tourism tiger that needs awakening.

Maguga Lodge Swaziland | 2014

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