Mobile data prices in Rwanda are the second cheapest in the East African region after Tanzania, according to a new survey published by cable.co.uk.
Cable.co.uk is a globally renowned website that compares price trends of broadband and mobile data around the world.
The report, which was released earlier this week also says that, globally, Israel has the lowest prices for mobile data, while Equatorial Guinea has the most expensive mobile data.
In Rwanda, the average price of 1GB of mobile data was put at Rwf1,133.33 ($1.25) for the 32 data plans measured, which is three times less than the global average of $4.07.
The cost also declined by almost 15 per cent compared to the previous year.
The cheapest plan of 1GB was recorded as Rwf315.79 ($0.35) while the most expensive was Rwf21,000.
In Tanzania, which has the cheapest data, 1GB on average costs ($0.75).
The data collected and analysed between December 8, 2020 and February 25, 2021 also shows that Rwanda is followed by Uganda at $1.56 per gigabyte, Burundi $2.10 and Kenya charging $2.25 per gigabyte (GB).
Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable said many countries with cheap data have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure, enabling providers to offer large amounts of data, and bring down price per gigabyte.
“Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data” he said.
In addition, the study points out, countries with long-established, ubiquitous 4G or new 5G infrastructure, tend to fall towards the cheaper end of the table.
“This is due to the fact that mobile data plans have escalated far beyond the 1-10GB per month median, offering instead plans with caps in the hundreds of gigabytes, or even completely unlimited. The cost per gigabyte in these countries will tend therefore to be very low.”
The survey notes that wealthy nations tend to have good mobile infrastructure, decently-sized data caps and relatively healthy markets.
“Since populations can afford to pay more, and network infrastructure costs that much more to own and run, and provided they haven’t reached the ‘excellent infrastructure’ category where data limits are beyond normal usage or entirely unlimited, data pricing drifts towards the global average.”
Israel is the new chart-topper
For the past three years, Israel has continuously made great leaps forward up the leaderboard. This year, the country was ranked country with cheapest data with an average cost per 1GB of mobile data of just $0.05
“This is quite staggeringly cheap. The introduction of 5G into Israel’s urban centres, along with ubiquitous 4G LTE which is now well on the way to offering unlimited data packages, is no doubt a major contributing factor to the outstandingly low cost of data,” reads part of the report.
North Africa surprisingly cheapest in the world
Perhaps the biggest surprise this year has been the dominance of North African nations at the top of the table, the report says.
The regional average is the cheapest of any of the 13 global regions the study subdivides into.
“It is perhaps surprising then that no individual nation in the region makes it into the top ten. Rather that six of seven of the nations in the region are in the top 60 cheapest countries, with outlier Mauritania the only exception, offering mobile data more than five times as expensive on average as any of its neighbors.”
Not all is rosy for the sub-Saharan region.
According to the report, the fact is there are many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where a relatively small percentage of the population owns a smartphone.
This, experts say, means there are a lot of countries where smartphone ownership, and therefore internet access via a smartphone, is still considered an expensive luxury.
“With relatively low take-up, telcos then have to charge an arm and a leg to their small customer base to cover the cost of their infrastructural investment and running costs.”
Much as the situation is slowly changing as take-up increases, the truth is that the cost of mobile data plans in Sub-Saharan Africa is falling the slowest there of anywhere in the world.