Speaking to Talk Radio 702’s Xolani Gwala, South Africa’s deputy minister of telecommunications and postal services responded to a campaign that had people on Twitter and in parliament demanding that #datamustfall.
Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize said that decisive steps have to be taken by both government and the private sector to create incentives that promote affordable data.
“We have to be very concrete in looking at the percentage that people spend on data and then see whether it’s a problem or not. And clearly everybody is fully aware that at the moment South Africans spend almost 25% of their monthly income on this,” Mhkize added.
However, Africa Check has previously disproved the claim that South Africans spend almost quarter of their income on data.
The latest results from a long-term study conducted by the University of Cape Town’s Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) found that the average household spent 3% of their income on cellphone use, including data costs.
South Africa’s national statistics agency latest Living Conditions Survey, released in 2017 and providing data for 2014/2015, found that on average, 3.4% of annual household expenditure was dedicated to communication, or about R3,509.
The study found that households in urban informal areas dedicated the largest share of their expenditure to communication costs (an average 4.6% of income, or R1,797), while households in formal rural areas spent the least on communication at 3% (or R2,270).