Network quality vs. affordability

In June, RIS launched the Next Generation Internet Index (NGII), a tool to measure a country’s readiness for the metaverse. The tool is intended to be aspirational because the targets are difficult to achieve. But the tool is also relevant for today, as Vodacom South Africa’s recent press release shows. Vodacom claimed that it had the best quality network in South Africa based on data from Tutela. Of course, competitors like MTN, called this claim nonsense based on data from Ookla that showed that MTN had a considerably better network. However, it doesn’t really matter if one network is slightly better than another if no-one can afford it. The NGII shows that South Africa scores pretty well for latency and cybersecurity and alright for upload and download speeds (35 Mbps and 16 Mpbs respectively) but really badly for affordability. South Africa has good mobile networks, but the price is out of reach for most South Africans. 

CountryNGIIRegionRank in RegionFast symmetrical InternetLow LatenciesAffordabilityCybersecurity
South Africa0.22Africa710%40%0%36%

If the metaverse is going to be transformational for Africa, it needs to be both accessible and affordable. In South Africa, accessibility is on the right path but affordability is not. 

Other news from around Africa
  • Sudan blocks the Internet: On the 30th of June, Internet access was blocked to about 83% of the country due to protests against the military junta. 
  • Africa data costs: A new report shows that sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s most expensive mobile data prices and 49% of African youth report that they cannot afford mobile data at all or for more than 10 days per month. 
  • Ethiopia: Safaricom might delay its launch till the end of 2022. The launch is already 3 months late. 
  • South Africa’s digital migration delayed: The Constitutional Court has ordered the digital migration process to be delayed in order to undergo more public consultation. The switch-over date was originally scheduled for the 30th of June 2022.