Business Hilights
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Gang up in broadband markets slowing digital inclusion in Africa, others

The 2019 Affordability Report, sponsored by Sida and Google in partnership with Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), an initiative of the Web Foundation, has revealed that consolidated broadband markets as seen in some economies are keeping prices of data access so high that citizens cannot afford internet.

The report made available to Business Hilights on Wednesday, revealed that even though broadband markets are competitive, the gang up of data service providers in some countries including Nigeria and several African economies is gradually hiking the price of internet access as there seems to be no clear differences in the prices of data bundles by networks.

The report averred that people living in countries with consolidated broadband markets pay $3.42 more per GB of mobile data than those in similar countries with competitive markets.

“This premium is unaffordable for many people, particularly in low-income countries, keeping them offline. When people have no option to switch providers, they are likely to pay inflated prices for mobile data.

According to the report, “1GB data in a monopoly mobile market could be as much as $7.33 more expensive than if it were a two-operator market.”

Otherwise, “across sub-Saharan Africa, people living in markets with no competition could be paying an additional 5.83 per cent of their monthly income for 1GB, on average.”

The report shows that in Africa only 24 per cent of the population is online while 70 per cent and 47 per cent of the population are online in the Americas and Asia, respectively.

The 2019 Affordability Report further revealed that data is least affordable in Africa with a 1GB data costing 7.1 per cent of average monthly income making broadband prohibitively high compared to 2.7 per cent and 1.9 per cent for the same data per month in the Americas and Asia, correspondingly.

It added that around 900 million people currently live in countries where the cost of internet access is kept high by consolidated markets.

In its technical summary, the report noted that “If governments and companies take steps to increase market competition, they can dramatically boost the number of people able to access the internet.”