There is a lot of potential for the African mobile internet market, but current data prices are too expensive. African data prices are some of the most expensive in the world and remain unaffordable to most of the population. Despite this, the mobile data market is forecast to be more than $22 billion in 2019, overtaking revenue from voice calls.

 

(Quartz Africa)

(Quartz Africa)

Nigeria has seen mobile data providers lowering prices in a rush to get more internet users to their side. This move is thought to have been spurred by a decision taken by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in October last year to lift the data floor price. It was in 2013 that the NCC insisted on a minimum price networks could charge for data. This was the commission’s attempt at making sure that competition was fair among data providers with no company deliberately underselling. However, in 2015, the NCC removed this limitation in order to promote growth and development of the data service market. Now, mobile data providers can set prices as low as desired.

 

Nigerian mobile data users are currently slated at 92 million, a sizable number of its 180 million populace. The current numbers are actually reduced since some mobile providers had to disconnect lines after government intervention over security concerns. Nigeria is also a huge market for over-the-top services, which include Facebook and Twitter. While telecoms operators may have initially been wary, they now see value in gaining revenue from data sales while voice revenue declines.

 

In May, a number of billboards and TV ads from leading mobile operators began advertising cheaper data prices started popping up in Nigeria’s major cities. They are offering data packages at cheaper prices, maybe in the hopes of being the first step to gaining more users that upgrade to more expensive plans.

 

African countries need to have cheaper data prices. But cheaper data does not necessarily mean better connections. It is not uncommon to hear Nigerians complain about slow internet connections, which are sometimes blamed on too many people being on the network. While some are hopeful that mobile data prices will keep falling while quality improves, others doubt that Nigeria would be seeing significant price drops in the long run.

 

Can we expect to see cheaper data prices in Nigeria that are also of great quality? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @rafeeeeta