African countries are paying some of the highest rates in the world for internet access

Did you know that only four out of ten people have internet access in Africa. 

Consumers in African countries are paying some of the highest rates in the world for internet access as a proportion of income, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) assessed 136 low and middle-income countries for their annual Affordability Report.

Middle-income examples from the report include Malaysia, Colombia, India, Jamaica, South Africa, and Ghana, while low income examples were Nepal, Mali, Haiti, Liberia, Yemen, and Mozambique.

The report authors argue that sluggish markets and monopolies are a primary cause of high prices and offer several policy prescriptions to address the issue.

‘Competition is core to success’

African countries are subject to the least affordable internet prices in the world, according to A4AI data.

Citizens of Chad, DR Congo, and the Central African Republic must all pay more than 20% of average earnings for 1GB of mobile broadband data. By contrast, the most affordable rates in the continent are in Egypt at 0.5% and Mauritius at 0.59%.

Overall, the report found that costs are falling faster in low-income countries than middle-income counterparts, but in many cases prices remain prohibitive.

A4AI’s primary recommendation is for greater liberalization of markets and measures to increase competitiveness. “Competition is core to successful broadband markets,” the report states.

Restricting access

The A4AI also recommends that the public sector step in where for-profit models fall short.

The report suggests provision of “public access options such as free public Wi-Fi and telecentres to fill gaps in the market.” Such steps are particularly applicable to rural areas, and to ensure marginalized demographics can access the economic and social benefits of the Web.

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