According to a report from Research ICT Africa prepared for Mozilla (Via MyBroadBand), the cost of buying data is a major barrier to internet use in South Africa.
The study interviewed focus groups from urban, peri-urban, rural, and deep-rural areas in South Africa as well as other African countries and discovered that the cost of getting data and the speed at which it depletes left many respondents frustrated. The study also revealed that as a result of the price of monthly data bundles, many respondents opted for smaller bundles which were consumed quickly, and bundles valid for shorter periods than a month, they also made use of subsidized data services as one of many money-saving strategies, including:
- Use of multiple SIM cards to take advantage of promotions, better reception quality, or better prices for a given service.
- Use of public Wi-Fi. For example, many buses in Rwanda now provide wifi access, and participants reported being willing to wait for a bus that was Wi-Fi-enabled.
- Tethering to mobile hotspots. In South Africa and India, users not only share data but also promotions and subsidized offers from one phone to another.
- Earned reward applications (where users download, use, or share a promoted application in return for mobile data/credit). The research indicates that most users tend to play the system to get the most credit possible and then abandon the earned reward application.
So, it this an African thing? Maybe, but I personally think Tanzania is an exception.
Based on this report, Tanzania has the cheapest rate for 1 gig of data at 0.89 US dollars in comparison to South Africa which is priced at 5.26 US dollars. Other large markets such as Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria have higher data prices than Tanzania.