#DataMustFall is the warcry that rallied many South Africans against the battle of exorbitant mobile data costs. The campaign caught public attention once it went mainstream on Twitter, thanks to the hashtag. In August 2017, this culminated in the initiation of an Inquiry into the Data Service Market.
Spearheaded by the Competition Commission, its mandate was to troubleshoot factors within the market or its value chain that leads to high data services costs Following the conclusion of the inquiry's investigation.
The final report published December 2019, gave shocking comparative insights on how expensive South African data services are.
2021, marks 2 years since the inquiry report found evidence of unjustifiable data costs. Recommendations from the report instructed mobile operators to reduce prices of sub-1GB bundles to a reasonable, socially justifiable price range. The inquiry further instructed mobile operators to take a pro-poor commitment on out-of-bundle data rates (prepaid), as this is how most lower-income groups access the internet.
1 April 2021, Vodacom announced a 14% reduction on their 1GB 30-day bundle offering, now priced at R80 from R99. Johnny-comes-last, MTN, announced its reduced 1GB 30-day bundle, now priced at R99 from R149.
As the two biggest mobile operators, their reduction announcements set precedence in the market. However significant these developments, the campaign to achieve #DataMustFall is far from a reality for the majority of South Africans.
Botswana, a SADC neighbor to South Africa, enjoys much more favorable data prices. Mobile operator MASCOM charges R91 for a 2GB 30-day bundle. MTN Zambia another regional neighbor charges R33 for a 1.5GB 30-day bundle.
From these facts, it's clear that data prices in South Africa remain largely unreasonable. In Fact, it's almost criminal how expensive data costs remain in light of the ‘concessions' operators made with the Competition Commission following recommendations. The internet is the lifeblood of any modern economy, South Africa relies heavily on data access, as it faces a 3rd coronavirus wave. #DataMustFall is our generational warcry to achieve universal internet access. It is central in making South Africa a competitive state.Share this via: