Data has become an essential component of our lives in the current digital age, connecting people to possibilities that were once unimaginable. Referred to as “life” by many, data is a tool that facilitates the achievement of goals with unprecedented ease, serving as the backbone of our modern society. It enables people to become part of virtual communities and witness real-time events globally, showcasing the significance of data in our lives.
Recently, the Nigerian Minister of Communications, Dr. Bosun Tijani, stated that Nigeria’s data cost is among the lowest globally. This assertion sparked discussions on social media, particularly on X (formerly Twitter), where some Nigerians contested the statement, citing challenges in connectivity and purchasing power parity.
While Nigeria ranks 31st globally for the lowest data prices, the context of this ranking has been questioned. This article delves into a comparison of data costs among the top ten African economies, using a report from cable.co.uk that considers the cost of 1GB of mobile data in 237 countries, factoring in exchange rates with the US dollar.
Although GDP per capita might be a more ideal index for evaluating citizens’ standard of living, it is not considered here.
Among the top ten countries, the report reveals that the top five with the cheapest 1GB data costs are Nigeria ($0.37), Ghana ($0.40), Kenya ($0.59), Morocco ($0.63), and Egypt ($0.65). The bottom five are Ethiopia ($0.68), Algeria ($0.73), Tanzania ($0.84), Angola ($1.01), and South Africa ($1.81).
However, the table does not consider present exchange rates or the purchasing power of citizens. Nigeria, with an average price of $0.39 (N390 using an exchange rate of N1000), globally ranks 31st for the lowest data cost.
Within Nigeria, there are significant disparities in the cost of 1GB, ranging from $0.13 to $1.64. Sub-Saharan African countries face challenges, with only six ranking among the top 50 cheapest globally. Malawi leads the region at $0.38, while countries like Zimbabwe, Saint Helena, and South Sudan are among the most expensive globally, reflecting a complex picture of digital accessibility.
In contrast, Northern African countries offer relatively affordable mobile data, with Western Sahara being the cheapest at $0.58.
Mauritania stands out as the most expensive in the region at $1.32. Overall, Northern Africa ranks as the cheapest region worldwide with an average cost of 1GB at $0.86.
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