By Poloko Mokhele
Vodacom Group Limited says it cut its data prices in Lesotho by 28.9 percent in 2018.
“We reduced the effective price per MB by 23.3 percent in South Africa, 29.2 percent in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 28.9 percent in Lesotho,” the company said in its integrated report for the year ended 31 March 2019.
According to the telecom giant, the decision to lower the data prices was informed by a mix of regulatory and competitive pressures.
It said it also reduced data prices by 13.8 percent in Tanzania and 42.0 percent for Safaricom, a listed Kenyan mobile network operator headquartered at Safaricom House in Nairobi, Kenya.
It is the largest telecommunications provider in Kenya, and one of the most profitable companies in the East and Central African region.
However, many people across Lesotho are still struggling to keep in touch with their friends and families, or are unable to send applications for jobs or scholarships on the internet because mobile data remains prohibitively expensive making access to internet elusive.
The poor, which make up the majority of the population have to resort to disproportionately high rates for data to access the internet.
Vodacom Lesotho’s minimum monthly data bundle of 750MB costs M80, almost 10 percent of an average Mosotho’s monthly income.
According to the International Telecommunications Union and the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, entry level broadband should not cost more than five percent of average monthly income.
Vodacom is a leading African communications company providing a wide range of services, including data, mobile and fixed voice, messaging, financial services, Enterprise IT and converged services to 110 million customers.
From its roots in South Africa, it has grown its mobile network business to include operations in Tanzania, the DRC, Mozambique, Lesotho and Kenya.
Its mobile networks cover a total population of over 291 million people. It is majority owned by Vodafone (60.5 percent holding), one of the world’s largest communications companies by revenue. NW