Here is a first stab at putting together an index that relates the cost of mobile services to income at the bottom of the pyramid in Africa. I found some ILO data on minimum wage that covers 24 African countries and a I found a couple more by googling. Here are the assumptions that I’ve made so far.

Mobile Costs

In order to relate mobile charges directly to income, I needed data that hadn’t already been converted into USD or similar.  This mean going to the operator’s websites for data.  Obviously there are hundreds of different rates and packages for mobile access.  I started by choosing the operator with the largest market share in the country.  From that operator, I chose one minute of air time during the day i.e. prime time and outside of the mobile network.  I was in some doubt as to whether to choose outside to the fixed line operator or outside to other mobile operators and went with the latter assuming it would represent the widest possible access.  I deliberately chose off-net calls to bring in the issue of interconnect fees.  This represents about the most expensive local call you can make in a country.

Minimum Wage

As I mentioned, the ILO were kind enough to point me at a spreadsheet they maintain which has a fair amount of data on minimum wage in African countries.  They have up-to-date data from 24 countries.  However, as we start to unpack things, there is some complexity here that I haven’t fully processed yet.  For instance, when I looked for data for Kenya (which was absent from the ILO data), I found this article which mentions two minimum wages, one for urban and one for rural agricultural workers.  In South Africa I know there is a specific minimum wage for domestic workers.  I would like to focus on the lowest wage earners but it is challenging to try to pick something that is consistent across countries.  I also thought of nurses wages or a day labourer’s wage.

Another assumption I made was that people work five days a week.  The ILO data gave a monthly wage but I  wanted a daily wage for the index so I divided by the average number of working days in a month (22).  I’m not sure whether this is a fair assumption at the bottom of the pyramid.

Needless to say, I welcome corrections and insights here.

Number of SMSes a days work will earn you at minimum wage

Number of call minutes a days work will earn you at minimum wage

Country /
Currency /
Dominant Operator
Minimum Wage
– Monthly
Minimum Wage
-Daily
Mobile call to other network
cost/min
SMS to other network
cost
Minutes per day affordable at min wage SMSes affordable per day
Algeria
algerian dinar
Djezzy (Orascom)
12000.00 545.45 9.5 5 57.42 109
Angola
kwanzas
Unitel
8600.00 390.91 25.92 9 15.08 43
Benin
CFA
MTN(Mascom)
30000.00 1363.64 100 50 13.64 27
Botswana
Pula
MTN
1.8 0.4
Burkina Faso
CFA
Zain
30684.00 1394.73 230 30 6.06 46
Burundi
francs
U-Comm (Orascom)
3466.67 157.58 300 20 0.53 8
Cameroon
CFA
MTN
28246.00 1283.91 200 50 6.42 26
Cape Verde
Escudo
CVMovel
30 15
Central African Republic
CFA
Telecel RCA (Orascom)
Chad
CFA
Zain
28000.00 1272.73 260 25 4.9 51
Comoros
comoran franc
30000.00 1363.64
Congo
CFA
Zain
54000.00 2454.55 145 50 16.93 49
Congo (Democratic Republic)

Côte d’Ivoire
CFA
Orange
36607.00 1663.95 99 50 16.81 33
Djibouti

Egypt
egyptian pound
0.5 0.5
Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea

Ethiopia
birr
1.5 ?
Gabon
CFA
Zain
80000.00 3636.36 250 50 14.55 73
Gambia
dalasi
508.30 23.1
Ghana
ghana cedi
MTN
607500.00 2.76 0.14 0.05 19.72 55
Guinea
Guinea Franc
Areeba (MTN)
360 200
Guinea-Bissau
CFA
MTN-Bissau?
Kenya
kenyan shilling
Safaricom
3270.00 148.64 15 5 9.91 30
Lesotho
maloti
Vodacom
812.00 36.91 2.9 0.75 12.73 49
Liberia
liberian dollars
Lonestar
3120.00 141.82
Libya
dinar
Libyana
130.00 5.91 0.24 0.05 24.62 118
Madagascar
ariary
Orange
70025.00 3182.95 390 120 8.16 27
Malawi
kwacha
Zain
3692.00 167.82 47.71 13.16 3.52 13
Mali
CFA
Orange
110 50
Mauritania
ouguiya
Mauritel
21150.00 961.36 65 8 14.79 120
Mauritius
rand
Orange
3180.67 144.58 3.9 0.6 37.07 241
Morocco
dirhams
Maroc Telecom
1933.36 87.88 4.8 0.8 18.31 110
Mozambique
metical
Mcel
6.58 1.97
Namibia
Namibia Dollar
MTC
3.35 0.6
Niger
CFA
Zain
28000.00 1272.73 195 75 6.53 17
Nigeria
naira
MTN
5500.00 250 37 15 6.76 17
Rwanda
Rwandan Franc
MTN
102 53
Senegal
CFA
Orange
85 30
Sierra Leone

Africell
28 units 7 units
Somalia

South Africa
rand
Vodacom
1737.06 78.96 2.99 0.8 26.41 99
Sudan
sudanese pounds
Zain
124.00 5.64 0.14 0.08 40.26 70
Swaziland
swazi emalangeni
Tanzania
tanzanian shilling
Vodacom
65000.00 2954.55 425 53 6.96 56
Togo
CFA
Togocel
28000.00 1272.73 150 50 8.48 25
Tunisia
dinar
Tunisiana (Orascom)
188.93 8.59 0.23 0.05 38.17 172
Uganda
uganda shilling
MTN
25000.00 1136.36 500 130 2.27 9
Zambia
kwacha
MTN
268000.00 12181.82 1435 287 8.49 42
Zimbabwe

Econet
0.25 0.09

Posted by Steve Song

@stevesong local telco policy activist. social entrepreneur. founder of @villagetelco #africa #telecoms #opensource #privacy #wireless #spectrum #data