Affordability in 2022

Over at Many Possibilities, Steve Song has a great review of telecom developments in 2022 in Africa. It includes many of the standard categories, like undersea cables, spectrum, towers and satellite but also has developments in relatively new categories (for Africa) like fibre-to-the-home and datacentres. One thing we could add to that review is a quick summary of data pricing trends across the continent. Even with the disruption of the economic slowdown of the past couple of quarters, the overall trend of data prices is steadily downward. 

We used a 20GB basket as the basis for price comparisons because the demand for data is clearly sky-rocketing and the usual baskets of 1GB or 5GB are just too small. We considered two averages across Africa for the pricing data: prices from the dominant operator per country and prices from the cheapest operator per country for every quarter between Q1 2020 and Q4 2022. Then, we weighted the prices per country by population so that smaller countries (like the Seychelles or Mauritius) didn’t skew the results too much. All prices were converted into USD. 

The chart shows that most people in Africa are paying much more for data than taking just the cheapest product for a country would indicate. Also, the difference between the cheapest price and the most available price is getting bigger. Of course, there are going to be country-level differences but overall dominant operators are able to extract more money from subscribers. Often the cheapest price in a country isn’t available nationally, so subscribers have to pay the higher price from the dominant operator. 

Even so, prices for 20GB of data have declined by between 28% (dominant operator) and 48% (cheapest operator) in the last two years and if the trend is any indication, the reduction in prices will continue over the course of 2023. 

Other news from around Africa 

  • Malawi: TNM is projecting a 90% decline in profit after tax for the year ended December 2022 and says that the cause is foreign exchange losses. 
  • Zambia: Zedmobile is the new trading name of Beeline Telecom and has officially launched in Zambia. 
  • Ethiopia: The Ethiopian Communications Authority is opening up expressions of interest for a 3rd operator in February 2023.