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Internet prices going down – except in Africa, where they’re rising

Internet costs chart.jpg

Prices for internet access have gone up in Africa after years of falling – while in the rest of the world they are still falling.

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) says that only 30 of the 99 countries it covered in 2018 have what it calls “affordable mobile broadband” – 1GB of mobile data is priced at no more than 2% of the average income. Across all 99 countries, 1GB costs 6.31% of the monthly income on average.

Rates vary enormously, says the A4AI, which is backed by Google and the government of Sweden and supported by companies such as Ericsson and Huawei and the Worldwide Web Foundation and other organisations.  

“In Sri Lanka, for example, the cost of 1GB of data represents less than 0.25% of the average monthly income, whereas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the same data package costs over half the average monthly income.” (See chart, above.)

Over the past few years the trend has been downwards, but in Africa last year saw an increase in average prices.

“For the majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa, the price of 1GB of mobile data is well beyond what is considered affordable and in sixteen countries across Africa, 1GB costs more than 10% of the monthly average income,” says the A4AI.

People living in middle-income countries have seen mobile data costs fall by 29% on average since 2015. But in low-income countries projected broadband cost has actually increased this year by nearly 16% since last year’s snapshot.

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