The price of mobile data in South Africa is a key stumbling block preventing South Africans from using the Internet, according to a report by Research ICT Africa, prepared for Mozilla.
Mozilla commissioned the research to find barriers keeping people offline, services Africans were connecting to online, the effect of zero-rating traffic and the barriers to entry. The research found that the price of data and rate at which it depletes left many respondents frustrated.
Mozilla supported the research to help inform what it believes is a global imperative to bring the world’s 4 billion unconnected people online to access the full and open Internet.
Research ICT Africa interviewed focus groups from urban, peri-urban, rural and deep-rural areas in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. The study found that many respondents opted for smaller bundles which were consumed quickly and bundles valid for shorter periods than a month as a result of prohibitive price.
The availability of electricity due to a lack of infrastructure in rural areas was found to be another significant barrier. The study found that people from these areas restricted themselves from using the Internet during the day, as phones are taken to overnight charging stations.
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Affordability of the Internet-capable devices also impacted use. The report recommended that infrastructural issues be addressed in rural areas, in particular, to increase the quality of services, which would allow users to choose any operator offering the cheapest product. It also recommended that secondary spectrum use such as TV white spaces and unused GSM spectrum be reassigned for community self-provision.
Earlier last month, another study by Research ICT Africa, which examined data costs in African countries in the first quarter of 2017, revealed that South Africa has the highest data costs among the continent’s leading economies, which include Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya.
Additional reporting by MyBroadBand