ZIMBABWE’S mobile data price is among the cheapest in the world, according to the latest survey conducted by researchers at a top United States-based think-tank.
The report by the Top Dollar Financial Insights Hub lists Israel as having the best value mobile data in the world, at US$0.01 for 10 gigabyte (GB) data per 1 megabit per second (Mbps) download speed, followed by China at US$0.03 per 1Mbps.
Top Dollar gathered the cost and speed of mobile data in several countries around the world, comparing price to megabits per second to find the best value around the world, and comparing price per 1GB to average local income, to establish where mobile data is most affordable.
Although Zimbabwe was not part of the Top Dollar report, a recent study by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) revealed that mobile data in the country costs on average US$0.015 per 1Mbps.
This means that Zimbabwe — without factoring affordability — is second only to Israel as one of the countries with the cheapest mobile data prices in the world ahead of Italy, Australia, France and Kyrgyzstan at US$0.06 per 1Mbps each, and ahead of Kuwait, Fiji, Moldova and Denmark that charge US$0.07, US$0.07, US$0.08 and US$0.09 per 1Mbps respectively.
The Top Dollar metrics also showed that Namibia is the most expensive country when it comes to data costs, with Namibians paying a whopping US$11.36 per 1Mbps download speed.
The report notes, however, that the high costs are a direct result of Namibia’s undeveloped data infrastructure.
“Namibia has the worst value in a considerable way due to snail-like downloads of 20Mbps against a cost of US$22.37/GB,” read part of the report, which brings to the fore the importance of the cost of infrastructure when it comes to ultimate pricing of data services.
The shows that at face value, Zimbabwe’s mobile data prices are much cheaper compared to several developed countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan and Singapore where consumers pay US$0.41, US$0.18, US$0.11, US$0.59 and US$0.14 per 1Mbps respectively.
In Africa, Zimbabwe is also ahead of South Africa, where mobile data prices average US$0.60 per 1Mbps while subscribers in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Tanzania pay US$0.23, US$0.29, US$0.34 and US$0.50 for the same package respectively.
The latest report appears to confirm computations made by Potraz earlier this year, which revealed that retail data tariffs in Zimbabwe are comparatively cheaper than those obtaining within the Sadc region.
“Potraz would like to assure the nation of its commitment to continue enhancing data affordability for all citizens, while at the same time ensuring operator viability,” the authority’s director general Gift Machengete said.
“This is a delicate balance that requires concerted effort, including fiscal intervention to address declining disposable incomes.
Telecommunication companies in Zimbabwe, which operate in a regulated industry, are currently battling the dilemma of pushing for viable tariffs that enable them to stay afloat and invest in infrastructure and network capacity to improve quality of service and adopt newer and faster technologies, while at the same time ensuring that their pricing remains affordable for their millions of users.
In Zimbabwe, the plight of telecoms companies is made worse by the shortage of foreign currency which they need so badly for them to procure network equipment, pay for software licences, buy fuel to power diesel generators and to service international debt.
For its part, Potraz has maintained that it would endeavour to balance service affordability for customers with operator viability by working to ensure tariffs are cost-based, using scientific costing methods to determine the true cost of providing telecom services, including the cost of delivering mobile data.