Despite having a significant portion of the country’s citizenry earning less than 2 US dollars a day, is Malawi the most expensive place on Earth to own a mobile phone?
By: Ringo Bones
Even though mobile phones and related devices had been recently dubbed as the most financially empowering telecommunications device of the last 25 years, it seems a tad hard using one – never mind improving your socio-economic status in the next few years - when you live in a part of the world when more than 50 percent of your monthly earnings will be spent just getting you online. Sadly, this represents the current reality of mobile phone services and other internet connected device users in the country of Malawi.
One of the first things to strike a foreign visitor to the nation of Malawi is the huge number of adverts put up by mobile phone companies and internet service providers marketing their products and services. In fact a recent report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) says on average, Malawians spend more than 12 US dollars a month just to keep their mobile phones and other internet connected devices online. This represents 56.29 percent of the average earnings of a typical gainfully-employed Malawian, which is a premium in a part of the world where a significant number of the population earns on average less than 1 US dollars a day.
Ben Chisonga, head of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MARCA) says “We are thinking of reducing the interconnection rates, which are about four cents per minute which we believe, is the highest in the continent.” which is seen by many as a move in the right direction. But at present, Malawi’s mobile phone subscribers currently complain of the lack of service quality and high mobile phone service fees. When it comes to the topic of expensive mobile phone services, Malawi is quite a contrast to Macau, China where it is dubbed by the International Telecommunications Union as the part of the world that is the lowest cost to own a mobile phone where only 0.11 percent of the average monthly earnings are spent on mobile phone service fees while providing world-class service quality.