That Somalia has the most affordable mobile internet in Africa according to British broadband research consultancy Cable, is a surprise to many netizens in the continent. 

For a nation that for decades carried the tag of armed conflict zone and piracy, appearing on position seven on the global index of mobile data affordability raised many eyebrows, but the country is fast embracing technology by first ensuring that internet is cheap. 

Speaking exclusively to Afcacia, Somalia’s Minister for Posts, Telecommunication and Technology Mr Abdi Anshur Hassan revealed that the low cost is as a result of a 5-year national ICT strategy and policies which have been developed to boost the country’s digital transformation efforts for inclusive socio-economic development. 

“The policy has helped to improve the cost of internet connectivity and network coverage through an extensive fiber footprint. We have seen an increase of competition in the sector, combined with infrastructure sharing that have driven down costs and prices,” he explained, adding that it has helped close the gap in internet access between urban centres and rural areas. 

Afcacia has established that the National Communications Act, which was passed in 2017 paved the way for further development and increase of investment for the telecom industry.

A unified licensing framework was also created to protect the competitiveness of the market and encourages more investment in the sector. 

The lowest cost of data in the Horn of Africa state per 30 days is USD 0.18 per every 1GB of mobile data, retaining an average of USD 0.50 in the past 12 months, according to Cable. 

The question of Somalia’s internet penetration has been bothering many analysts, given that it is a nation with a history of violence, even doubting its smartphone penetration rate. 

“Internet penetration rate in Somalia stands at 55 percent, and the speed of internet  is 20Mbps, and this speed can be found in most rural areas, not just in Mogadishu or urban areas. 57 percent of our population live in urban areas, 31 percent in rural areas and 12 percent in IDP camps,” Mr Abdiaziz Duwane Issak, the Director General at the same ministry clarified. 

According to Mr Issak, more than half of the population has a smartphone at a penetration rate of 51 percent, and 89.1 percent of those who own a phone have access to the internet daily. Most of them are youths under the age of 35, who form 66.1 percent of Somalia’s population. 

The country has several mobile and broadband internet service providers, and the internet is relatively stable, depending on the service type coverage and transmission.  

“The broadband services delivered to homes is reliable, while mobile internet service providers guarantee 95 percent uptime with a good signal strength. Competition in the provision of internet is very high which led to attraction of users by providing a good customer service,” expounded Mr Isaak. 

As for the private sector, operators are working to reduce their costs by modernizing their equipment to use the best technology available.

They also see the value in infrastructure sharing and have played the biggest role in developing favourable policies while working closely with the government in what the Mr Isaak calls “a comprehensive consultation framework.” 

Another factor has been the reduction of taxes to attract more investment and innovation, and the Telecommunication minister calls on African governments to use the resource virtualization approach, where multiple telecommunication services can be provided by less physical infrastructure. 

“Since the chunk of the cost transferred to the end-user comes from the cost of power and infrastructural management, this approach can reduce the operational cost, improve accessibility, and cut the cost to the end user. Infrastructure sharing is one key area to lowering data cost combined with fair and transparent policies that do not favour the market leader only,” advised Mr Hassan. 

Afcacia took a look at the best and worst countries in affording internet to citizens:

Top 5 Eastern Africa

PositionCountryAverage Cost of 1GB of Mobile Data (Kshs)Global Rank
1.Somalia0.507
2.Sudan0.6613
3.Tanzania0.7423
4.Kenya1.0941
5.Rwanda1.5664

SOURCE: CABLE

Top 10 Africa

PositionCountryAverage Cost of 1GB of Mobile Data (USD)Global Rank
1.Somalia0.507
2.Sudan0.6613
3.Algeria0.6815
4.Reunion0.7422
5.Tanzania0.7423
6.Ghana0.9934
7.Western Sahara1.0336
8.Morocco1.0337
9.Kenya1.0941
10.Egypt1.1545

SOURCE: CABLE

Top 10 World

PositionCountryAverage Cost of 1GB of Mobile Data (USD)
1.India0.9
2.Israel0.11
3.Kyrgyzstan0.22
4.Italy0.46
5.Ukraine0.49
6.Kazakhstan0.49
7.Somalia0.50
8.Sri Lanka0.53
9.Russia0.54
10.Vietnam0.58

SOURCE: CABLE

Bottom 5 Africa

PositionCountryAverage Cost of 1GB of Mobile Data (USD)Global Rank
1.Saint Helena56.70288
2.São Tomé and Príncipe30.52224
3.Malawi29.60223
4.Benin29.30222
5.Chad25221

SOURCE: CABLE

Bottom 5 World

PositionCountryAverage Cost of 1GB of Mobile Data (USD)
1.Saint Helena56
2.Falkland Islands43
3.Nauru32
4.Bermuda31
5.São Tomé and Príncipe30

SOURCE: CABLE


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