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Cost of Internet Access: Nigeria and South Africa

Posted by Dayo Olutunfese on September 23, 2011  /   Posted in Tips

I must admit, to my shame, that I am one of those Nigerians who think that the price we pay for internet access is exhorbitant. Of course, this kind of thinking is based absolutely on ignorance of what is happening in other parts of the world. Had we been properly informed and educated, we would know that we are in Heaven in Nigeria as far as internet access is concerned.

For example, when you recharge with N200 on Etisalat, you get 15MB of data free to use for the monthweek. We should simply ask ourselves, Does this happen on Etisalat in other parts of the world? While I haven’t done my research, my guess is that the answer to that question will most definitely surprise us.

I recently came to South Africa to live and work. Naturally, I would need to choose an internet plan to use so I can continue to represent Mobility and keep in touch with the world. I had been told that as far as tarrifs go, MTN is the network to look at. So I decided to continue the tradition of “Every Where You Go”.

You can imagine my surprise when I checked out their prices for the different range of internet bundles they offer, and compared it with what obtains on MTN in Nigeria. The difference was too clear. The tariffs for internet access on MTN South Africa are certainly higher than that of MTN Nigeria.

Here Is The Comparison
For starters, Pay-as-you-use internet on MTN SA cost R2.00 Per MB (N40.00).
On MTN Nigeria, it cost 155kobo per KB which translates to N50.00 per MB

1day plan with 150MB data cap on MTN SA cost R50.00 (N1,000.00).
The same plan on MTN Nigeria costs N500.00

1GB data plan on MTN SA cost R289.00 (N5,780.00)
The same plan on MTN Nigeria costs N5,000.00

2GB data plan MTN SA cost R389.00 (N7,780.00)
5GB data plan MTN Nigeria cost N8,000.

As we can see, the figures speak for themselves. In my uneducated opinion, I would expect that internet tarrif in SA would be cheaper as they don’t need to power their cell sites with generators, and they do not need to spend money on diesel to keep those generators running like their Nigerian counterparts do.

For all it is worth, MTN Nigeria and other networks are working miracles to bring us internet access at the price they do, given all they have to deal with in our environment.

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  1. Eye.Bee.Kay September 23, 2011 10:35 am / Reply

    If not that we have been prohibited from using profanities on this blog, i would have reached into my ‘bag of Expletives’ and hauled you some…;-)

    Bro, you miss it.
    Hear your humble self:

    Nigeria and other networks are working miracles to bring us internet access at the price they do, given all they have to deal with in our environment.

    How much does the average Nigerian earn? What you earn determines your disposable income.

    It is similar to when some dumb government official tells us that a litre of petrol sells for &%¥ dollars in XYZ country.

    Bro, wake up. Such comparisons are academic. Our earning power is low. most companies operating here make their monetary from VOLUME. Try and earn in Nigeria Naira and live in SA.

    My take..

  2. Udegbunam Chukwudi September 23, 2011 10:48 am / Reply

    No be lie oh! Even Etisalat Dubai tarriffs are crazy. I guess government isn’t really charging them much on this end and that’s why they can afford to make things cheaper for us

  3. jikong1 September 23, 2011 10:56 am / Reply

    “For example, when you recharge with N200 on Etisalat, you get 15MB of data free to use for the month.”

    point of correction, 15MB of data for the week (valid for 7 days).

    If in SA you get N40.00/MB, that equivalents to 4000K/1024KB = 3.90625K per KB. Rest ma case….

  4. Afewgoodmen September 23, 2011 10:59 am / Reply

    Eye.Bee.Kay, I support your view. South Africa is a small country in population compared to Nigeria. And the turnover generated in Nigeria by MTN far surpasses that in South Africa. I stand to be corrected!

    The price should go lower instead of higher. I also agree with the notion that MTN is ripping us off in Nigeria and sending our money to their home country in South Africa! Glo is a truly customer-centric company. Without Glo, we wou,d still be in the dark ages in Gsm in the country!

    We are slow to remember the per second Billing debacle in Nigeria. When all the GSM carriers swore thatnper second billing wasn’t possible! Immediately Glo took off with per second billing at launch, all the DARNED Carieers went a U-turn with their tails between their legs.

    All Nigerians ought to embrace Glo, a truly indigenous company. Rule your world!!

  5. shayman September 23, 2011 11:46 am / Reply

    The info posted here are not up to date..MTN Nigeria’s 3G plan is N6000 or N2500 depending on time of the day.. And the pay as you go rate is 5k per kilobybtes..not 15k

    well i guess data rates depends on individual markets cos for instance MTN ghana charges 2cedis, 200naira for 60mb valid for 15days. Thats far cheaper than nigeria!

  6. shayman September 23, 2011 11:53 am / Reply

    Glo is very nice truly. But i dont just trust them to have the technical know-how.

  7. twitter_martinkem September 23, 2011 12:06 pm / Reply

    an MB in Nigeria costs N51 not N40. You should check out the cost of data in India

  8. Harry Echemco September 23, 2011 1:08 pm / Reply

    Another important issue is that mobile internet in South Africa ought to be a premium service and thus they should be paying as such. What I mean is that whereas all we’ve got in Nigeria is mobile internet, South Africa being a developed country has both landlines and other communication backbone in place. They are likely going to be using mobile internet more sparingly, relying mostly on cable and telephone networks for their internet needs.

    Even in England, most mobile data tariffs are charged at 2p/KB for people on pay as you use, but people on plan pay by far cheaper.

    On, I once read someone’s article that stated that his monthly internet bill or rather plan in Holland on cable networks that includes voice calls, data/internet services (with a fair usage data cap of 30GB) and cable tv (something equivalent or better than what we get from MultiChoice DSTV) is 60 Euros. Now you won’t expect such a person to update his device on his mobile data or make any serious downloads on his mobile except through perhaps WIFI.

    Go to India and Russia or even Kenya here in Africa and you’ll realize that we’re not enjoying the best in both data and voice calls.

  9. Emeka September 23, 2011 1:11 pm / Reply

    Gentlemen, these kind of arguments really tick me off. Is this how you compare economic indices? Do you compare prices by just converting one currency to another, what about the cost of living in those currencies? The big question is this, what percentage of the average income does internet access cost?

    Our current minimum wage is about ?18,000 per month and MTN is charging about half of that for 6GB of Data. The funny thing is that workers are yet to receive the said amount, so I can say that the De Facto minimum wage is still ?7,500.

    The gentleman running this useless analysis should tell us what percentage of the South African minimum wage internet access costs. Let nobody come and run his mouth here because I was having a nice weekend till I saw this post.

  10. jujukemist September 23, 2011 1:13 pm / Reply

    let oga yomi speak, i want to hear him analyse this poorly researched entry.most unfortunate

  11. muyiscoi September 23, 2011 1:46 pm / Reply

    I use an RSS reader (google reader) to read articles on this site and only click on the actual link if i want to comment. I was getting increasingly ticked off as i read this piece and quickly clicked on the link in order to lay all my comments here but as i can see from previous comments, others have done justice to it already. so i rest my case. MTN n co shld reduce their tariffs in Nigeria. While they are at it, they should also increase the network speed and download cap!.

  12. Austine Ezemelue September 23, 2011 2:54 pm / Reply

    I use to believe this site was ok till I saw this post. To start with, you definitely got your figures wrong.

    15k per kilo byte translates to N150/MB. However, the current rate is 5K/KB which translates to N50/MB.

    Even if SA prices were higher, that should not be a surprise as Nigeria has much higher customer base than SA, hence economy of scale should push the price down. In fact, it is on record that MTN makes a much higher proportion of it’s group profit from Nigeria.

    In future, check your facts well and do your calculations properly before posting.

    I’m really disappointed.

    • Belushi September 24, 2011 10:13 am /

      This site is very ok. Errors can occur as humans; if you see one, just point it out and it will be corrected. Simple.

  13. andy September 23, 2011 3:02 pm / Reply

    base on d xchange rate u gave, i.e R1 to N20, MTN pay as u go is cheaper in SA than in 9ja. 1Mb=1024kb=N40 dere4 1kb=3.9k as against 5k in 9ja. Well, for me oo its just a matter of time, MTN wiil fall, mtn suppose to be the cheapest network in 9ja now base on d exploitation dey have don ,bt d prefer to cntnue.glo N400= 50mb for 7days, mtn N400=25mb for 7days, glo N1000=200mb for 30days, mtn N1000=100mb for 30days.

    Infact, glo now gives 25mb and 50mb free valid for 7days on recharge of N500 and N1000 respectively. so as for mtn, its just a matter of time. Its just that mtn kno 9ja very well, dey kno our tinking, we make class wit anytin, average 9ja dont even want to know what other networks offer, dey want to belong (by force).

    Even wen u tell some and dey dont have anytin to say, dey will say: d senate president, d speaker, dangote,……..and so on are all using mtn, if u want to be lik dem, do wht dey do.

  14. Eye.Bee.Kay September 23, 2011 3:37 pm / Reply

    Andy, you said,

    ‘Infact, glo now gives 25mb and 50mb free valid for 7days on recharge of N500 and N1000′

    is that a fact? GLO? (*surprised*)

  15. Harry Echemco September 23, 2011 3:55 pm / Reply

    @Austine Ezemelue:

    You said:

    I use to believe this site was ok till I saw this post.
    To start with, you definitely got your figures wrong. 15k per kilo byte translates to N150/MB. However, the current rate is 5K/KB which translates to N50/MB.

    This site is run by human beings just like you and I and they can make mistake sometimes even though that is not desirable. In fact as we the visitors are concerned, we would want their error margin to be very low but that does not mean that mistake will not occur sometimes. Would it be correct/right to suggest/conclude that you are not ok because you made the mistake of saying that 5k/KB translates to N50/MB instead of N51.20/MB.

    I don’t know when you started visiting this site but it appears this is the first time you found mistake here, so I think it is wrong to suggest that the site is not ok for just one bad topic.

    Meanwhile, Dayo this is obviously a bad one and you need to apologise for your mistakes and let all these end.

  16. Chibueze Opata September 23, 2011 8:58 pm / Reply

    Cost for Internet access? Well, unfortunately I live in USA when it comes to that, I don’t really have anything to say that has not been already said.

  17. CallMeAlade September 23, 2011 9:04 pm / Reply

    This is an interesting article and obviously one that strikes a chord with most readers. But i don’t think the price of mobile internet is really cheap in most countries of the world (I stand to be corrected).

    I that note i will agree with the writer that our mobile internet in Nigeria is fairly affordable cos its more expensive providing wireless mobile internet the world over.

    I think we should rather have a better internet backbone as a country and improve our landlines or embark on house to house fibre optic cable laying, if we’ve got the cash. If we don’t do this we would be dependent on mobile internet from Glo & MTN which will remain expensive for the fore-seeable future.

  18. andy September 23, 2011 9:21 pm / Reply

    Mr. eye.bee.kay. Wht I said is true. Glo gives that. But u can only browse wit it using the “glosecure” APN instead of “gloflat”to be sure or confirm, use d voice dail to recharge (dail 123) and recharge, wen its done u will be told d amount recharged and d promo(in kbts) given to u or call 171(N20) cnc 121 is always too busy to confirm. D truth is dat glo is doing evrytin to bring price down, just as dey have crashed BB subscription from N2800 (1.5Gbt) to N1400
    (3Gbt) for 30days although wit just 1 email a/c dis time. Thanks

  19. Olukunle September 23, 2011 10:04 pm / Reply

    I really appreciate all comments on this post it has generated a lot friendly and unfriendly argument. But MTN Blackberry to me solve most of this problem. I am on their BIS monthly and I have download more than 5Gig data especially downloading podcast. Both audio and video. Also listen to cool music at Though you cannot tether it with laptop. I even know a guy that went as far as 16Gig in a month. Glo BIS is limited

  20. EMEKA September 24, 2011 3:56 pm / Reply

    It is said that there is always a silver lining in every cloud, so it is in this case. While most of us in this forum were visibly furious that somebody could even suggest that we are having it good in Nigeria, @andy drew my attention to the free data offered by Globacom. I just tried the glosecure Apn and I have be able to save on my gloflat subscription. Thank you @ andy.

  21. Oluwajoba Odesanya September 24, 2011 5:09 pm / Reply

    Hehehe.. as for me. I know what I do for these telecommunication people. If they like let them even increase their rates. I browse free! Always! That’s what I do. With the level at which I browse the internet I even wonder at times if I would have been able to afford the subscription rates if not that I’m skilled. lol I know it will be better.

  22. jujukemist September 25, 2011 11:00 am / Reply

    @afewgoodmen etal: notice that generalsimo yomi has said nothing.more importantly,notice that dayo has not apologise.

    i will give u d reasons:a mistake is one when the one who comitted it says i am sorry.but so far dayo cant say so.why? because a mans perspective is drived from & limited to is knowledge base. . .

    yomi has always been the guardian of dayo even on the level of mobile intellect(ual) but see what distance has exposed.I learnt a fundamental lesson a long time ago:when people around you say you are wrong,you are wrong indeed.A good post is one on which there is for and against.

    This unfortunate post has not in any way diminished the UNO status of this site.Rather it has further authenticated the caliber of commentators here. I rest this case.shukran!

  23. shayman September 25, 2011 10:57 pm / Reply

    I dont know why you guys have taken this post so personal. Dayo doesnt need to apologize to anybody for posting this.

    Running MN i believe is not his basic assignment. Neither was He trained as a professional writer. So on what basis are you guys judging him for the errors?

    He has written 53 posts before this and didnt make mistakes. And if anyone thinks he/she a better writer why not apply at MN and give us the all ”perfect” write-up?

  24. bosun99uk September 27, 2011 3:17 pm / Reply

    Well, hope its faster over there.

  25. jujukemist October 4, 2011 8:12 pm / Reply

    your statement above reflects the error of the Nigerian system. Let me illustrate : one shortcut to getting quick promotion and recognition in Nigerian universities is to priduce as many as possible so called “research papers” however poor the depth are.if numbers are medals.

    it also worthy to note that yomi didnt get this blog to this level by shallow works.He interacted at a spiritual level with the subject of his writeups. Learning from him (though i disagree with him sometimes) made me produce just one writeup.

    it speaks of itself. since yomi called for staff writing we have seen the content quality nose dive. just check the comment boxes.

    least i forget dayo still lacks the capacity to apologise.

  26. Yomi Adegboye October 4, 2011 9:30 pm / Reply

    I have read all the comments on this article and refrained from commenting so far till now. This will be my only comment on it, and you can all carry on after this.

    One: This article has stated facts based on the writer’s experience: you can do whatsoever you want with those facts. You can argue those facts, analyse them, reject them, and crucify the writer all you like.

    Two: Dayo does not owe anybody any apology for writing about his experience and his impressions of that experience.

    It is true that data services are more expensive in SA. It is true that Nigerian operators also have higher operational costs and hazards to contend with. Whether you agree that our operators are working magic to make things happen here or not is a subjective thing.

    Most of the commenters here have never run an IT operation here in Nigeria. I have. I know the nightmares. Dayo’s opinion, even if not 100% valid, is not outrageous.

    Three: With regards the alleged drop in the quality of content of this site in the last few weeks, what has that got to do with the writer of this article who has been writing here since 2008 and with a good track record?

    Four: This alleged drop in quality of content in recent times is largely a farce. For the most part, the articles are good. The writing may not be as stellar as that of someone like myself. But then, not many people write as good as I do (and I have no apologies for saying that; its just fact).

    If anyone has something constructive to say to help our writers, please do say it. If you don’t, but want to crucify them (and me along with them), please feel free.

    While you are calling for their heads, I’ll be here letting them write, guiding them, and assisting such that in the near future, they will stand tall as excellent writers too. Hopefully, I would have added value to their lives while you were calling for their heads.

    Five: Lastly, I still write the majority of articles on this blog. If you don’t fancy one writer, something you can do is ignore his articles and read mine (and those of others).

    Cheers, everyone! And please, don’t burst an artery.

  27. Udegbunam Chukwudi October 4, 2011 10:10 pm / Reply

    @Oga Yomi: You do well sir. Som folks just don’t know that we rocking the internet in this country unlike in others despite logistics like NEPA, VANDALISM etc!

  28. Anonymous February 7, 2014 6:00 pm / Reply

    Although I’m 3years late to this format, I’m truly shocked at the author’s like for like comparison of Internet data plans and prices without putting into considerations other economic indices that influences purchasing power in both countries. …do u think MTN nigeria is a charity organisation? Going by d nature of your job and d company u work for, you obviously did not do your homework before going to print.

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