A few years back, Ghana was ranked the 3rd most affordable mobile data plans in Africa, so the sixth position in 2019 and now, though relatively low, compared to other countries, indicates mobile data tariffs are going up.
The telcos put it to the increase in Communication Service Tax (CST) from six per cent to nine per cent last year, plus an additional 9 per cent on interconnect rate, which is not backed by law, as CST is strictly a consumer tax.
This is in addition to an already existing 17.5% tax consumers taxes on airtime – comprising of 12.5% VAT, 2.5% National Health Levy and 2.5% GETFund Levy, paid by the consumer.
But the CST has recently been reduced to five per cent and yet Ghanaians have started a huge campaign dubbed #DataMustFall to drum home the need to reduce data cost.
Some have argued that since the telcos claim they used to absorb the original six per cent CST on behalf of their customers, it should be easier for them to absorb the CST now that it is down to five percent.
But Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Ing. Dr. Kenneth Edem Ashigbey has said the apart from the heavy tax burden on telcos themselves, there are numerous charges and levies that also compound their operational cost so it would not make economic sense to absorb the CST any longer.
He agreed with consumers that there is need to reduce data cost, but insisted that the way out is not telcos to absorb it, but for CST to be scrapped completely so telcos can comfortably reduce data cost.
“Somalia has the cheapest data in Africa where 1GB of data costs $0.55 on average from $6 last year – it is seventh in the world,” the report said.
In Africa, Somalia is followed by Sudan, which is also 13th in the world, the Algeria, 15th in the world, Reunion 22nd, Tanzania 23rd, Ghana 34th, Western Sahara 36th, Morocco 37th, Kenya, Mayotte 44th, Egypt 45th while Djibouti closed the top 50 indexes at position 48th.
All East African nations are ranked in the top 100. Tanzania and Kenya are followed by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in the affordability index where people pay $1.50, $1.75 and $2.28, respectively, which is much higher than what people pay in Ghana.
Meanwhile, Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, Ghana’s West African neighbours, is ranked 58th with an average price of $1.58 for 1GB of mobile data.
Moreover, Ghana, Zambia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Guinea, Burundi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Mauritius all make it in the top 100, surpassing developed economies such as Germany, the United States, Switzerland, South Korea, Belgium, Portugal, New Zealand, Norway and Netherlands.
But some other African countries that make up the rest of the bottom ten have no such include Malawi, ranked 224 while Nigeria’s neighbors, Chad and Benin Republic are ranked 222 and 223 respectively.
Unlike Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern African countries are great for mobile data users. All but two of the seven North African countries are in the cheapest half of the table. Algeria is the cheapest in North Africa at an average cost of $0.65 while Libya, the most expensive in the region has an average cost of $4.73 for 1GB.