Inadequate Competition Costs Africa more for Internet Access

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It appears that Internet users on the African continent expend much for the access to the web. What appears to be the causes?

A number of challenges ranging from inadequate investment in internet infrastructure and low competition among stakeholders in the local market.

Estimations have shown that by 2030, all Africans would have internet access, but the financial requirements run into around $100 billion in investment. A large chunk of the money is going into infrastructure.

According to a broadband affordability report by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) on enabling national policies to lower industry costs and ultimately create more affordable broadband.

African countries as at the moment of writing this article don’t have policies that can ensure valuable spending of the billions of dollars projected for investment in infrastructure.

Even in the Affordability Drivers Index scores, a large number of African countries’ do not surface in the top half.

More African countries are again in the bottom half of the than in the top half. According to the report earlier mentioned the inadequate competition in the market.

Of course, these markets are housed in a system with different broadband operators.

Lack of competition has trivial as it might appear shows a high reflection. For instance, on the African continent, you will probably spend 7.12% of an average monthly salary on consuming one gigabyte of data.

These numbers indicate the amount spent on data for internet access is more than the stated affordability benchmark of 2% of an average income.

Also from the same report, estimation shows that countries with low market competition have their citizens pay $3.40 extra to afford one gigabyte.

Such markets described above are referred to as consolidated markets and it appears that a large concentration of them in Africa compared to other continents.

Findings from the report also validate a research report by Ecobank concerning Nigeria.

It showed a relationship between prices of data on the home front coupled with competition bring down prices and the number of mobile network operators in Nigeria.

In countries with two mobile network operators, the price of mobile data is often on the high side, while lower in countries with multiple local network providers.

Sonia Jorge executive director, A4AI’s stated “In terms of competition, gaps exist. We need to change that equation because the only way users benefit is to have multiple players in the market. .We don’t think that it’s a cool idea to have people come online just because. It’s mostly because it is transformational.”

Malawi, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Liberia, and Sierra Leone top the worst ranked countries on the broadband affordability drivers index.

Cameroon and Mali, however, are topping the countries with significant progress in broadband affordability.

Featured Image: sabcnews

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