The Cost of Mobile Data in Africa

By Alexis C. Madrigal

One of the great technoutopian hopes is that cell phone networks will allow countries without good wired infrastructure to leapfrog to a much higher state of connectivity, spurring massive expansions of economic opportunity. To do that, countries like Uganda and Kenya need good, cheap mobile data infrastructure. If you're curious how that dream is translating into reality, the blog White African has a nice breakdown of the cost of 3G data in east Africa. The bottom-line is that a gigabyte of mobile data will still cost you more than $20, but the cost is dropping fast.

Mobile data access charges have fallen drastically in the last several years in East Africa, in large part to the SEACOM undersea cable arriving and increased competition between operators. Data connectivity is the new battleground, fighting not just amongst mobile competitors, but also with traditional ISPs. 
In the mobile data connectivity space, each country sells either data capped bundles (or time capped bundles in the case of Uganda) that can be loaded onto a SIM card. There are out of bundle charges, priced per Megabyte or Kilobyte, but these rates are exorbitant, so anyone who connects regularly uses a bundle of some sort.

Read the full story at White African.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/11/the-cost-of-mobile-data-in-africa/66565/