Over the last decade Broadband has been shifting from a luxury to a necessity and human right as has been pronounced by MTN Uganda through its adverts.
Broadband internet service can deliver quality education, healthcare and employment opportunities. Through tele-health services, a few specialist healthcare practitioners can deliver quality service to teeming patients in remote areas by electronic means, thereby improving on the volume and quality of healthcare services across the country.
In the educational sector, internet access would make it possible for huge numbers of people employed and full time students, to obtain quality education through distance learning schemes, improving their value and rewards in the labour market.
It would also make it possible for other retired professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists, accountants, among others to contribute to the growth of the economy, by working from their villages or other remote locations without having to suffer the discomfort and costs of commuting. It would also improve the quality of education in universities and other tertiary institutions, by encouraging co-operation and collaboration between educational institutions and top rated foreign institutions.
Quality and affordable internet access, would also give impetus to electronic commerce in Uganda.
Despite of the many economic benefits, the lowest whole month access to broadband without a data cap but with limited speed of 512kbps on a shared link costs an average of 300,000 on Warid Telecom and 299,000 on Orange Uganda Telecom. It hence means that a month’s broadband access in Uganda costs 120 USD. That is 3 times more expensive compared to 40 USD in Kenya for unlimited broadband package. Broadband Internet access costs around $10 per month in China, compared to $30 per month in India and $27 per month in Brazil.
“Broadband prices can be over a thousand times higher in real terms in the poorer countries,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO at Point Topic.
Analysing tariff data from the middle of 2011, Point Topic compared the cost of 12 months of subscription to the cheapest, and usually slowest, fixed broadband service. Converting prices to purchasing power parity (PPP) equivalents for over 2,000 tariffs from around the world and then combining the results with the gross national income per capita (GNI/capita) again at PPP rates for the relevant country allowing direct comparison between the markets.
“The analysis allows us to see how much of an average yearly income in each country would be needed to pay a year’s subscription for the cheapest option available. The results gap between rich and poor, the haves and have nots in broadband terms is revealing,” said Johnson.
In the 2011 survey by point topic, it is stated that 79.9% of an average yearly Kenyan income would be needed to pay a year’s subscription for the cheapest option available in Kenya. Currently as of 2012, Uganda’s broadband costs are way more expensive compared to Kenya. Put it into context, this paints a picture of the affordability of broadband in Uganda. It is still very expensive for the average Ugandan. At the look of real costs, the price of 300,000 UGX for unlimited data package is over 70% of the salary for teachers and many other workers.
Even as Uganda has made big strides embracing 3G, data caps and very high broadband costs mean that Uganda still needs much to do in terms of infrastructure to lower costs for broadband if Uganda is to enjoy more economic and social benefits coming with broadband. We hope Uganda Communication Commission and other stakeholders are working harder to try to address the challenges that are still keeping broadband access very expensive.