What would you choose: Food or Data?
Across the continent packets of data come at all sorts of different costs and in various sizes. But often the poorest are penalized the most. So, given the choice, would you choose food or data?
If you don't have much money, would you choose to eat or surf the internet?
There are so many different data and phone deals in each country in Africa. The choice can be bewildering. The richest sections of society and business people might buy monthly deals and have unlimited access to the web. But, for the poorer sections of society, data is an expensive luxury and conversely, the less you can afford, the more you pay to surf the web.
Costs in Kenya
In Kenya $1(€0,81) is equivalent to around 100 shillings. That in turn could buy you just under 2kg of maize flour which makes the popular staple dish ugali. For that money you could also buy a weekly bundle which would give you about 130 MB of data. So what would you choose, eating or browsing?
What about Rwanda?
In Rwanda, $1 is equivalent to about 855 Rwandan francs. For just over $1, or 1000 francs you can buy about 500 MB of data for one week or 300MB for one month. For that same money, you could also get about 3kg of potatoes or rather a lof of another staple like onions in the market. Many people prefer to buy their data in smaller amounts. For 100 francs you get 15MB for 24 hours.
Coffee or a website in Ethiopia?
In Ethiopia, $1 is about 27,55 Ethiopian birr. For 20 birr you can get 100MB to browse for one week. With just 10 birr you might be able to buy two small cups of coffee at the market from a street vendor. So would you prefer to invite your friend for a coffee or access the web?
In Ghana consumers are spoilt for choice
In Ghana $1 is equivalent to about 5,5 Ghanaian cedi. That could buy you about 300 MB to use over 7 days. If you want just 60 MB of data it will cost you as little as 2 cedis which could get you a very basic plate of one of the country's favorite dishes, waakye with some garri and egg but certainly no meat.
Costs are high in South Africa
Whilst in Nigeria or Egypt, consumers might be able to get 1GB of data for just $1, in South Africa the costs are 10 times higher. The less you have, the more you pay for your data. This cuts almost half of the country's population out of access to the internet. Others have to overcome many obstacles to find a free wifi access point.
In Nigeria things are improving
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission approximately 91 million Nigerians use the internet. That's more than fifty percent of the population, which provides a huge market for internet providers and also strong competition. But a lot has changed in Nigeria in the last five years. Data costs back then were three to four times higher than they are today.