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SA, Kenya among highest data prices in Africa

Read time 3min 30sec

On average, South Africans pay around $7.19 (R106) for 1GB of data, which is six times more expensive than mobile users pay in India.

This is according to the State of Mobile Web 2019 report released this week by Opera, developer of Web browser Opera Mini.

The study, which provides insight into the African digital landscape, found Africa is a region set for rapid digital expansion pushed by increasing smartphone adoption. It also compares the costs of data in some African countries with those in India and Germany.

The study, conducted among the browser’s 20 million users, found Internet usage on mobile devices is on the increase among Africans, with a total of 51 million new mobile subscribers added between January 2018 and January 2019.

According to the study, in India. mobile phone users pay on average $0.3 per GB, while Germans pay $7 per GB.

“In Nigeria ($2), mobile data costs are five times cheaper than in SA, and four times cheaper than in Germany. Kenyans are paying 10 times ($3) more than Indians for 1GB of data, making it one of the countries with the highest cost of mobile data after SA.

“Mozambicans spend an average of $16 per GB, while Ghanaians pay around $1.5 per GB,” according to Opera Mini.

SA has 21 million Internet users, the majority of which use mobile, according to a study conducted by World Wide Worx, in partnership with Dark Fibre Africa.

According to a report by broadband market analyst firm Cable.co.uk, SA ranks at number 143 out of 230 countries in regards to mobile data prices. The average cost of 1GB of data in SA is $7.19 (R106). Zimbabwe is the most expensive country in which to buy mobile data, with 1GB costing about $75.20, which is 289 times the average cost in India ($0.26), notes the report.

Kyrgyzstan is a close second to India, with 1GB costing $0.27 on average, followed by fellow Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) countries Kazakhstan ($0.49) and Ukraine ($0.51) in third and fourth place, with Russia 12th on the list with an average 1GB cost of $0.91.

Opera claims Opera Mini’s data compression mode saved users nearly $100 million worth of data in 2018.

The report also notes that on average, Africans using Opera spend more than 30 minutes browsing online each day. The most browsed category of Web sites was social media platform domains such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, followed by search engines like Google, and entertainment and sport Web sites.

Image supplied by Opera Mini.
Image supplied by Opera Mini.

Mobile browsers preferred

The report reveals the Opera mobile browsers and news app were used by nearly 20 million Internet users in Africa and by more than 350 million people globally in the first quarter of 2019.

It states that Internet users in Africa are increasingly relying on mobile browsers to access the Internet, instead of standalone mobile apps, due to privacy concerns. Nine out of 10 South Africans use their mobile browser every day.

“One-third of surveyed Internet users believe a mobile browser offers them more privacy features than a standalone social media app. Around 35% of South Africans prefer to access social media domains, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, through their mobile browser.”

Furthermore, video content is becoming more popular among people who use Opera mobile browsers; Opera News users in Africa spend 50% of in-app time watching videos.

“We are thrilled to see that our mobile browsers and news app have grown by 25 million monthly users in the last year, '' says Jørgen Arnesen, head of marketing and distribution at Opera.

“The new Opera News app has led this positive growth, as well as the introduction of new features to our mobile browsers like a built-in VPN and crypto wallet. The successful partnerships Opera has with major smartphone manufacturers in Africa have also contributed to this massive growth.”

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