By Tabora Bojang
According to a report by cable.co.uk, a leading broadband, TV and phone comparison site, Gambia is ranked at 9th in top ten African countries with the most expensive data [internet] prices.
The ranking said The Gambia has an average price of 1GB [gigabytes] at $3.56 which is equivalent to little over D225. On the global data ranking the country sits 202 of countries with the cheapest data rate.
Last year, The Gambia ranked 8th in Africa with the most expensive average usage of mobile data with $5.86 per gigabyte.
The report states that data affordability continues to be a pressing issue in Africa with several countries ranking among the world’s most expensive places for data.
“Several factors are responsible for elevated data costs in the selected African nations. Among the challenges are a lack of competition among telecommunications providers, infrastructure deficiencies, and certain government policies. As a result, many people in these nations face barriers to accessing online resources, which can limit opportunities for social and economic advancement,” the report added.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ousman Bah told lawmakers last month that the high cost of internet and data is a concern for everyone in The Gambia but the government ‘cannot force’ operators to cut the prices. “We cannot force them to reduce the fees or the amount of charges they are charging unless there is a market assessment and that is the responsibility of Pura,” Minister Bah told the Assembly.
GSM operators in The Gambia have often been criticised for charging exorbitant fees for data and internet, credit deductions and poor services among others, while regulatory authority Pura is criticised for not doing enough to address the high cost of data in the country.
However, Pura DG Yusupha Jobe, told The Standard earlier this year that a new monitoring equipment has been purchased to monitor and measure service quality of operators and investigate complaints on data and other issues.