South Africans Spend 24.7% Of Income On Mobile Services

By Dana Sanchez Published: February 9, 2016, 2:47 pm
Students at a Johannesburg university. Photo: Africa Media Online/Antony KaminjuStudents at a Johannesburg university. Photo: Africa Media Online/Antony Kaminju

Nationally, South African Internet users spend 24.7 percent of their income on mobile services including data and voice, according to a Fin24 report.

Anything more than 5 percent in unaffordable, according to the International Telecommunication Union, said Alan Winde, minister of economic opportunities in the Western Cape.

The South African average monthly spend on a cellphone for voice and data is 210 rand ($13.06) per month, according to an Oct. 19 2015 BusinessTech report.

It’s worse in Malawi, where citizens spend more than $12 a month on average for mobile phones — that’s more than 50 percent of what an ordinary Malawian earns in a month, BBC reported in February 2015.

The universities of Cape Town and Western Cape conducted research commissioned by the provincial Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

The survey and resulting report — the Western Cape Digital Readiness Assessment 2015 — will allow the province to track the effect of its broadband roll-out program, Winde told Fin24.

The Western Cape plans to spend more than 2 billion rand ($124.35 million) on a broadband roll-out project in the province, and has already connected about 123,000 residents to its public Wi-Fi program.

“This year, 2,000 government sites, including schools, libraries and health facilities, will go live,” Winde said. “Our goal is that every resident of this province has access to affordable Internet.”

Internet access via mobile is higher in the Western Cape than the national average, according to the survey, Fin24 reported: 93.8 percent of people in the province access the Internet via a mobile phone compared to a national average of 70.8 percent.

According to the survey, 38 percent of Western Cape households have a computer with ADSL Internet access compared to the national average of 22 percent.

The average Western Cape resident spends 20.1 percent of monthly income on Internet connectivity — less than the national average of 24.7 percent.

“We placed special attention on getting to grips with three of our most vibrant, yet previously under-served areas so that we are able to see how access to broadband is changing lives and business opportunities for those residents,” Winde said.

Social media use in the Western Cape also exceeds the national average — 93.5 percent versus 75 percent.

The survey found that 60.3 percent of Western Cape respondents use mobile to search for health-related topics; 37.2 percent use it for educational purposes; and 35.7 percent search for jobs via a mobile phone.

“We’ve been seeing shorter queues at our clinics, which suggests more residents are indeed turning to the Internet for basic medical questions,” Winde said. “This is saving them travel money and lost time at work. It’s also reducing demand on stretched government medical services.”

However, the cost of Internet access is still high in South Africa, Winde said.

“This is why we have selected bringing broadband to residents as one of our game-changers,” he said.

Here’s what people spent on mobile in 2014 as a percentage of their monthly incomes, according to the ITU: Measuring the Information Society Report 2014, BBC reported.

Cheapest in the world

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

Most expensive in Africa

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

Cheapest in Africa

Mauritius – 0.79 percent of average monthly earnings
Tunisia – 1.62 percent of average monthly earnings
Botswana – 1.64 percent of average monthly earnings

 

 

 

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