Namibian mobile operator slashes data pricing after SA #DataMustFall protests

Smartphone users demand lower cost data. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Smartphone users demand lower cost data. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Inspired by South African data protests, Namibian mobile operator Paratus has cut its data prices by a massive 80%.

The operator announced in a statement that it reduced the cost per gigabyte from N$85 (R85) to N$15 (R15).

"According to statistics from Research ICT Solutions (2018), Namibia rates 29th out of 52 African countries with regards to the cheapest 1 Gigabyte mobile prepaid rates per month for 2018 in USD, with a rate of US$7.35," the Paratus statement reads.

The Data Must Fall campaign was a key motivator for the company to drop its pricing.

"Campaigns like #DataMustFall in South Africa raised the issue of high data costs, showing high levels of dissatisfaction amongst the consumers. It is essential for consumers to educate, inform, connect and share valuable information through affordable internet services, without having to pay exorbitant prices," read the company statement.

Value to consumers

In SA, Research ICT Africa highlighted Cell C as the operator that delivered the highest Postpaid Value Index (PVI) to consumers.

The PVI takes into account all the value adds from a mobile subscription and calculates a value - the higher the value, the more benefit to consumers.

Cell C scored 7.35 in January 2015, significantly higher that Vodacom [JSE:VOD] (2.87) and MTN [JSE:MTN] (1.33).

However, that score was significantly lower that regional leader Orange Mauritius which scored 11.77.

Paratus Namibia is on an expansion drive and the company announced in February 2018 that Nimbus Infrastructure Limited took a 26.5% stake in the operator valued at N$20m. It subsequently increased its stake to 51.4%.

Paratus' growth has been underscored by solid returns.

"The move into Africa unlocked significant potential in the Paratus Group with collective revenue growing from USD29 million in 2012 to USD65 million in 2017, translating into a compounded annual growth rate of 17.5% over the five-year period," says Nimbus in its March 2018 financial circular.

In 2017, the turnover for Paratus was R1bn and the company is extending its footprint into SADC, with offices in SA, Zambia, Mauritius, Botswana and Mozambique.

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