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 wageSMSes affordable per day
Algeria
algerian dinar
Djezzy (Orascom)
12000.00545.459.5557.42109
Angola
kwanzas
Unitel
8600.00390.9125.92915.0843
Benin
CFA
MTN(Mascom)
30000.001363.641005013.6427
Botswana
Pula
MTN
1.80.4
Burkina Faso
CFA
Zain
30684.001394.73230306.0646
Burundi
francs
U-Comm (Orascom)
3466.67157.58300200.538
Cameroon
CFA
MTN
28246.001283.91200506.4226
Cape Verde
Escudo
CVMovel
3015
Central African Republic
CFA
Telecel RCA (Orascom)
Chad
CFA
Zain
28000.001272.73260254.951
Comoros
comoran franc
30000.001363.64
Congo
CFA
Zain
54000.002454.551455016.9349
Congo (Democratic Republic)

Côte d’Ivoire
CFA
Orange
36607.001663.95995016.8133
Djibouti

Egypt
egyptian pound
0.50.5
Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea

Ethiopia
birr
1.5?
Gabon
CFA
Zain
80000.003636.362505014.5573
Gambia
dalasi
508.3023.1
Ghana
ghana cedi
MTN
607500.002.760.140.0519.7255
Guinea
Guinea Franc
Areeba (MTN)
360200
Guinea-Bissau
CFA
MTN-Bissau?
Kenya
kenyan shilling
Safaricom
3270.00148.641559.9130
Lesotho
maloti
Vodacom
812.0036.912.90.7512.7349
Liberia
liberian dollars
Lonestar
3120.00141.82
Libya
dinar
Libyana
130.005.910.240.0524.62118
Madagascar
ariary
Orange
70025.003182.953901208.1627
Malawi
kwacha
Zain
3692.00167.8247.7113.163.5213
Mali
CFA
Orange
11050
Mauritania
ouguiya
Mauritel
21150.00961.3665814.79120
Mauritius
rand
Orange
3180.67144.583.90.637.07241
Morocco
dirhams
Maroc Telecom
1933.3687.884.80.818.31110
Mozambique
metical
Mcel
6.581.97
Namibia
Namibia Dollar
MTC
3.350.6
Niger
CFA
Zain
28000.001272.73195756.5317
Nigeria
naira
MTN
5500.0025037156.7617
Rwanda
Rwandan Franc
MTN
10253
Senegal
CFA
Orange
8530
Sierra Leone

Africell
28 units7 units
Somalia

South Africa
rand
Vodacom
1737.0678.962.990.826.4199
Sudan
sudanese pounds
Zain
124.005.640.140.0840.2670
Swaziland
swazi emalangeni
Tanzania
tanzanian shilling
Vodacom
65000.002954.55425536.9656
Togo
CFA
Togocel
28000.001272.73150508.4825
Tunisia
dinar
Tunisiana (Orascom)
188.938.590.230.0538.17172
Uganda
uganda shilling
MTN
25000.001136.365001302.279
Zambia
kwacha
MTN
268000.0012181.8214352878.4942
Zimbabwe

Econet
0.250.09

Posted by Steve Song

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