Visualisation and mapping does not compensate for poor data

Subheading Policy Brief 1 (2019)

By Onkokame Mothobi


In 2019 a mapping of African data prices by Cable caused a stir by highlighting both the power of visualization and the problems with widely publicized and popularized poor data.

In the absence of good data or reliable data being unable to compete with impressively packaged erroneous data, and many states not having the capacity to validate data, it potential to misinform public debate and decision-making is high.

The Cable methodology of ranking countries by using the effective rate per 1GB of mobile data is problematic in that it does not account for price differentials between small and large data packages.

At an average price of USD 0.56 and USD 0.68 respectively, Cable ranks Rwanda and Sudan among the top ten countries in the world for the cheapest data. Zimbabwe is ranked last, with an average cost for 1GB data of USD 75.20 and the most expensive 1GB of USD 138.46.

The Research ICT Africa African Mobile Pricing (RAMP) Index collects prices across African countries for monthly, weekly and daily plans of 100MB, 500MB and 1GB, which generates comparisons of data prices.

According to the RAMP Index, North African countries have the cheapest 1GB data on the continent. The price of 1GB data in Egypt is USD 1.12, USD 0.60 less than the price of 1GB in Rwanda. The price of 1GB in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the third best performer on the Cable list, is six times more expensive than in Egypt and Tunisia.

Read the policy brief (PDF).