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.
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.
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 / |
|Mobile call to other network|
|SMS to other network|
|Minutes per day affordable at min wage||SMSes affordable per day|
|Central African Republic|
Telecel RCA (Orascom)
|Congo (Democratic Republic)|
|28 units||7 units|