August 2023 witnessed inflationary pressures in Sierra Leone, escalating from 44.81 percent to 50.94 percent. Parallel to this economic pinch, an outcry is growing louder over the rising cost of mobile data in the country.

Throughout the year, citizens have been vocal about the prohibitive pricing of mobile data by telecommunications networks. The exorbitant data costs in Sierra Leone stem from several reasons, notably a lack of infrastructure and high taxation in the telecom sector. These prices hinder a substantial portion of Sierra Leoneans from accessing essential online services, such as healthcare, education, and finance.

For many Sierra Leoneans, mobile data is their primary conduit to the global community. Yet, the cost they bear is among the highest worldwide. A recent Statista report underscores this concern, indicating that several African countries rank at the top in terms of mobile data costs.

Equatorial Guinea tops this list, charging an astonishing $49.67 for a single gigabyte of data. Sao Tome and Principe, and Malawi follow at $30.97 and $25.46 per gigabyte, respectively. Chad and Namibia are not far behind, with their average prices at $23.33 and $22.37 per gigabyte, respectively.

Others in the high-cost echelon include the Central African Republic, Seychelles, and Gambia, priced at $9.03, $8.64, and $5.86 per gigabyte, in that order. Countries like Mauritania, Madagascar, Gabon, Cape Verde, Togo, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Benin, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Comoros also feature on this list.

20 African Countries with the Most Expensive Mobile Data

  1. Equatorial Guinea – $49.67 per gigabyte
  2. Sao Tome and Principe – $30.97 per gigabyte
  3. Malawi – $25.46 per gigabyte
  4. Chad – $23.33 per gigabyte
  5. Namibia – $22.37 per gigabyte
  6. Central African Republic – $9.03 per gigabyte
  7. Seychelles – $8.64 per gigabyte
  8. Gambia – $5.86 per gigabyte
  9. Mauritania – Data price not specified
  10. Madagascar – Data price not specified
  11. Gabon – Data price not specified
  12. Cape Verde – Data price not specified
  13. Togo – Data price not specified
  14. Burkina Faso – Data price not specified
  15. Guinea-Bissau – Data price not specified
  16. Botswana – Data price not specified
  17. Benin – Data price not specified
  18. Mali – Data price not specified
  19. Sierra Leone – Data price not specified
  20. Comoros – Data price not specified

While Sierra Leone is witnessing a surge in digital innovations, from indigenous social media platforms to grassroots internet providers, the cost of data remains a significant barrier. This price bottleneck exacerbates the “digital divide,” a concern echoed by the United Nations, which points out that nearly half of the world’s population remains digitally disenfranchised.