Government has plans to regulate data prices in South Africa: report

South African telecoms regulator, Icasa, says that it is specifically looking to regulate the price of data in South Africa.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the ITU conference currently being held in Durban, Icasa chief executive Willington Ngwepe reportedly told the group that the regulator is looking to launch a market inquiry into the matter in the next month.

The inquiry is expected to take between eight to 18 months, and will specifically look at regulating the price of data.

However, he said this would not happen overnight.

According to Ngwepe, the move comes as a direct result of consumer complaints over the high cost of data in South Africa, where prices are some of the highest on the continent.

A 2016 World Bank report found that South Africans paid around $14.10 for one gigabyte of data, the fourth highest out of 17 African countries, Reuters reported.

South Africa’s major mobile operators have come under fire for carrying high data prices, which political parties claim are stifling the economy and keeping the majority of people from participating in the digital economy.

South Africa’s mobile market it dominated by two major networks – Vodacom and MTN – which occupy 75% of the market share.

Nqwepe also commented on president Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise that government will make much-needed spectrum available to operators, saying that the licensing of new radio spectrum will happen by at least April next year.

Read: Government will make spectrum available: Ramaphosa

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Government has plans to regulate data prices in South Africa: report