Published 2 November 2021
The average cost of a smartphone is over 40 per cent of an average monthly income in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries, according to a new report.
The report by Alliance for Affordable Internet put the global average cost of a smartphone at 26 per cent of a global average monthly income of $104.
According to the organisation, COVID-19 has demonstrated how essential smartphones are – how they provide access to life-saving information, enable students to continue their studies online, and foster social connection.
It, however, noted that the devices continued to remain inaccessible to many people in the region.
It said, “Across the 187 countries studied, we found that the global average cost of a smartphone is around 26 per cent of an average monthly income, $104.
“However, there are significant divisions in affordability between regions and countries that suggest smartphones remain inaccessible to many.
“In some regions, people would have to spend far more than the global average. For example, in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa the number surpasses 40 per cent. Even worse, in the Least Developed Countries, the average person would have to spend over half of their monthly income to buy a smartphone.”
The organisation said those in low-income countries would have to spend almost 70 per cent of their average monthly income to purchase the cheapest available smartphone on the market.
According to the report, in regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean, average incomes are higher, and the cheapest smartphone on the market represents only 14 per cent of their monthly income.
“In North America, smartphones only cost about two per cent of average monthly income,” it said.
It said while income might be a factor, access was a much-nuanced factor.
According to AAI, low-income countries usually offer a limited collection of low-end brands, and a lot of high-end brands, while high-income countries have unlimited access to a lot of low-end brands.
It said, “Overall, we find shocking disparities in mobile affordability between countries — and cases with the least affordability are not necessarily in countries with lower average incomes.
“Instead, in many cases, markets that only offer consumers a limited selection of high-end brands and devices affect the position of these countries in the data.”
The organisation noted that Alcatel and Samsung phones recurred as the most affordable phone brands across the different countries.
According to AAI, for a lot of people, these phones offer a means to Internet access.
It said, “Beyond commercial brands, a common practice in several markets are devices sold under the name of the mobile network operators, produced by an original design manufacturer and commonly known as ODMs.
“In 19 per cent of countries, these types of devices — which are offered by network operators such as Orange, Digicel, and Vodafone — are the most affordable. On average, these devices cost under $30 each. Both the Alcatel and ODM smartphones are key to onboarding new users at an affordable price and close the digital divide.”
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