Mobile data prices in Nigeria have dropped by 75% over five years, ConnectAfrica has reported. This according to Research ICT Africa’s (RIA’s) 1GB Basket statistics, which show the average price of 1GB of data has dropped from $11.15 in mid-2014 to $2.78 at the end of 2019.
RIA is a policy and regulation think-tank and its 1GB Basket compares the average price of 1GB of mobile data across different African countries, in US dollars.
The declining price of data has been a trend across the continent, although different markets still have very different pricing structures. Nigeria is on the cheaper side of the scale, coming 14th cheapest on the continent in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Nigeria’s data prices declined steadily between 2014 and 2015 and then there was a big drop of 44% between the second quarter and the fourth quarter of 2015, from $9.11 to $5.06. More steady declines came over the next two years, and since the end of 2017, the price of 1GB has been sitting steadily at around $2.80.
Nigeria 1GB pricing over 5 years
Interestingly, when it comes to the different mobile operators in Nigeria, by the fourth quarter of 2019 all the operators had the same average price per GB at $2.78. In fact, they have maintained the same pricing since mid-2017, with the exception of Spectranet, which has had higher pricing.
The RIA data shows that MTN Nigeria’s data prices started off very low in 2014, at $1.67 per GB, and then shot up to over $8 in early 2015, before coming down again to $3.25 in mid-2016 and then stabilized from 2017 onwards. In contrast, rival Airtel started off high in 2014, with 1GB costing $8.58, but this price dropped to just $0.12 by mid-2015, and then skyrocketed back to $9.71 in mid-2016, before falling to more reasonable levels at around $3 a quarter later.
The Alliance for Affordable Internet estimates that 1GB of data in Nigeria in 2019 was the equivalent of 1.7% of the average monthly income of Nigerians. In comparison, the price of 1GB in Egypt was 0.50% of average income; 2.17% in South Africa; 3.10% in Kenya; and 26.24% of average income in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Speaking on this, the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta hinted that there will be a review of all pricing guidelines in Nigeria’s telecom industry.
Danbatta made this disclosure at a Virtual Conversation organized yesterday by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) themed “Socio-Economic and Political Impact of COVID-19 on Telecom and ICT Sector in Nigeria”.
Fielding questions from Industry Stakeholders on reviewing of spectrum fees and pricing, the telecom regulator EVC noted the change is coming as a result of COVID-19, which has disrupted Nigeria’s economy.
However, Danbatta failed to disclose if the pricing review will be upward or downward.
In his words, “NCC is planning to review not just spectrum fees and pricing, but all fees. What I can’t tell you now is whether it will be reviewed upward or downward. We all know COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted our economy. Government needs more money to fund the budget.”