Cost of smartphones continues the digital divide in Tanzania

  • Tanzania is ranked fourth among 49 African countries when comparing the cheapest 1GB of prepaid mobile data, yet the Internet penetration rate remains low at 30%.
  • A nationally representative ICT Survey recently completed by Research ICT Africa (RIA) finds 43% of Tanzanian population does not own a mobile phone.
  • The Survey also identifies the cost of smartphone devices to be a major inhibiting factor on Internet take up.

RIA’s Beyond Access Survey, which assesses ICT access and use among individuals, households and businesses in conjunction with its local partner — the University of Dodom, shows that close to 30% of Tanzanians use the Internet. Considering that mobile data prices are reasonably low, the 30% Internet penetration, rate is an indication that the affordability of the input device — Internet-enabled phones — in Tanzania remains a challenge. Of those that access the Internet, 70% are doing so from smartphones, indicating a strong preference for such devices. Furthermore, the government’s high taxes on telecommunication services are undermining their own efforts to ensure affordable universal access. For example, there is airtime excise on mobile phone use of 17% (the highest in Africa), which increases the cost of airtime consumption and communication.

Download the complete Policy Brief No.4