Malawians spend more than $12 a month on mobile phones — more than half of average monthly earnings — making it the most expensive place in Africa, and one of the most expensive in the world, to use a mobile phone relative to income, according to a BBC report by Emmanuel Igunza.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mauritius is the cheapest place in Africa to own a mobile phone, according to a report by the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU. Mauritians spend 0.79 percent of average monthly earnings on mobile.
Based in Switzerland, the ITU is a private-public organization that describes itself as global forum through which parties work towards consensus on a wide range of issues affecting the future direction of the ICT industry. ITU members include 193 countries and over 700 private-sector entities and academic institutions.
In major towns in Malawi, everywhere you look you’ll see competing advertising from mobile providers on T-shirts, vans and brands on umbrellas used by street vendors, BBC reports. But two players dominate the market. The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority is thinking of introducing more data players in the market, and may have to intervene to bring down rates, Ben Chisonga told BBC.
“For the current players, we are thinking of reducing the interconnection rates, which are about four cents per minute, which we believe, is the highest in the continent,” Chisonga said.
Calls between the two networks are high, and many Malawians resort to owning Sim cards.
“Mobile phone penetration is not as high as the 11 million we had earlier estimated,” Chitsonga told BBC. “It might be around 2-to-3 million.”
By comparison, Kenyans and South Africans spend significantly less on mobile — about 5 percent of average monthly earnings. Next door to Malawi in Mozambique, mobile-phone users spend more than a quarter of the average monthly income paying to use their mobile phones.
Here’s how much of their earning Africans are spending on mobile, based on average monthly earnings, according to ITU’s Measuring the Information Society Report 2014.
Mauritius – 0.79 percent of average monthly earnings
Tunisia – 1.62 percent of average monthly earnings
Botswana – 1.64 percent of average monthly earnings
Malawi – 56.29 percent of average monthly earnings
Madagascar – 52.55 percent of average monthly earnings
Central African Republic – 51.63 percent of average monthly earnings
Macau, China – 0.11 percent of average monthly earnings
Hong Kong, China – 0.18 percent of average monthly earnings
Denmark – 0.19 percent of average monthly earnings