A Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe (MISA Zimbabwe) report has revealed that data costs are preventing citizens in Southern Africa from accessing the internet.
The report entitled “Beyond a Click: Regional assessment on the state of digital rights in Southern Africa,” was launched today in Harare.
“The main issue is the price of handsets and data which, despite coming down, can still be prohibitively expensive for the remaining unconnected population, even for low-cost devices,” the report says.
“Affordability is the top barrier preventing mobile ownership for both men and women across the region.”
Only two countries Mozambique and Tanzania have been ranked as the best-performing in terms of pricing in the SADC region according to the MISA Zimbabwe report.
“The cost of 1GB of data in Malawi, Namibia and South Africa costs six times more than the cost of the same amount of data in the best-performing country Egypt (USD1.24),” the report says.
“Swaziland is the worst-performing country in the region, with 1 GB of data being 25 times the price of 1 GB in Egpty, and over 15 times that in Mozambique.”
“The high cost of data in the SADC region is one of the main contributors to digital inequality in the SADC region,” the report explains.
In terms of Zimbabwe, Cade Zvavanjanja, who spoke on the launch of the report said there is need to contextualise data charges which may be the cheapest in Southern Africa using US Dollars but unafforded by the country’s citizens.
Service providers have hiked data charges to 5 RTGS Zimbabwean currency per 1GB something that has resulted in an outcry among citizens.