Africa prepaid mobile price index 2012: South Africa

Policy Brief 1: South Africa, 2012

Among 46 African countries studied, South Africa ranks poorly for prepaid mobile telephony affordability. Ranked 30th out of 46 African states, South Africa is now far behind countries where the regulator, unlike in South Africa, has enabled competition by enforcing cost-based mobile termination rates. The resulting competition has in many cases driven down prices for consumers. Not long ago, South Africa and Namibia shared the same mobile termination rates and had similar end-user prices. Today, Namibia enjoys amongst the cheapest mobile prepaid prices in Africa, as a result of the slashing of its termination rates close to cost, which pressured the incumbents towards cost-based pricing, thereby increasing demand and remaining highly profitable.


1. SA ranks 30th. Mobile prices are cheaper in over 30 African countries than they are in South Africa with prices in Kenya, Mauritius, Egypt and Namibia only a fraction of the price of even the lowest priced services in South Africa.

2. Neighbouring countries several times cheaper. South African prepaid mo-bile prices are three times more expensive than in Namibia.

3. Lack of pass-through of price reductions to end-users. In South Africa, even the modest reductions imposed on termination rates have generally not been passed on to end-users.

4. Cell C and 8ta. Two relatively late market entrants, Cell C and the most recent entrant 8ta, have attempted to introduce cheaper mobile prepaid products, but these products have not forced down the general price level.

5. SA operators do not compete for price. The dominant mobile operators, Vodacom and MTN, have been able to withstand the pricing pressure from price cuts by later entrants, and all operator’s prices have settled around the levels set by them.

Suggested citation

Stork, C., Calandro, E., & Gillwald, A. (2012). Africa prepaid mobile price index 2012: South Africa (Policy Brief No. 1; South Africa). Research ICT Africa.