NGII: Select case studies

Balancing Act has a great feature this week looking at the role of monopolies in the wholesale market and the impact this has on retail prices for several countries in Africa. We are going to build on that feature by providing some data from our Next Generation Internet Index (NGII). The principle behind the NGII is to measure a country’s progress towards the next generation Internet, or what is now commonly referred to as the metaverse. Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality will mean a more interactive and immersive experience. This requires high bandwidth and low latencies, but at a price that is affordable to most people. How prepared are these countries for the metaverse? 

As Balancing Act points out, monopolies in the wholesale market are a key cause of high retail prices. The table below is from the NGII and shows that 20GB of data costs more than 5% of GNI per capita per month for each country. The NGII also shows that the effect is more widespread that just high prices: the quality of the Internet that is also poor. Each country suffers from relatively high latencies, though Tanzania is the worst with a latency higher than 50 milliseconds. In terms of speeds, only Ethiopia has an upload speed of greater than 10 Mbps.

Tanzania is probably the best illustration of the damage that poorly thought through government intervention can do. It scores only 3% on the NGII and is ranked 31st out of 33 countries that are tracked in Africa. The Internet is slow, laggy and expensive. So, in terms of preparedness for the next generation Internet, there is a lot of work to be done and allowing wholesale competition is just one area. 

 NGII Score Fast Symmetrical Internet Low LatenciesAffordability Cybersecurity 
Other news from around Africa 
  • ICT Taxes in the DRC: Mobile operators have received bills based on the new taxes of $0.0075 per minute of talk-time, $0.003 per short message text and $0.00005 per megabit of data. At the same time, price hikes have been ruled out by the ARPTC. This approach is guaranteed to reduce investment in the sector at exactly the time when it is needed most and when the DRC is already suffering from high prices. 
  • Angola: Africell launched in April 2022 in Angola and claims to have signed up 2 million subscribers in just one month. 
  • Zimbabwe: The government is looking at ways to include Airbnb in its digital taxation regime. In January, it hired Daedalus World Limited to collect digital taxes. There is no official communication, but indications are that digital platforms are subject to a 5% tax on revenue. 
  • ITU Global Connectivity Report: The ITU has launched the 2022 version of its Global Connectivity Report. RIS’s policy brief on the impact of social media taxes on affordability in Uganda is one of the references in the report.