September 30, 2016

How much more expensive are data contracts in South Africa?

'#'DataMustFall is trending, but how do South Africa’s data prices really compare to the rest of the world? Tariffic, a South African company that helps businesses and individuals save on their cellphone bills, has just released its quarterly ‘’Tariffic Perfect Package Tracker’’.

Data has become the umbilical cord that links us to the world and this quarter, data packages are under the Tariffic spotlight, comparing the price which South Africans pay for “data only” packages to comparative countries around the world.

The results show that South Africa has the 2nd highest data contract prices in the group, coming second only to Brazil.

The research was conducted by identifying data contract prices from the leading mobile network operators in other BRICS-member countries (namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China) as well Kenya and Australia. These prices were compared against the average data contract prices across all of the South African mobile network operators.

Tariffic also understands that you cannot simply convert the prices of the various data contracts to Rands to get comparable results, as this does not take into account the cost of living in the various countries. As an example, spending R10 in South Africa is worth a lot more to South Africans than the equivalent of R10 is worth to Chinese in China. In order to ensure that the company compared apples-with-apples, all figures were rebased against the “Cost of Living index”.

Tariffic’s analysis shows that, once prices were converted to Rands and re-based for the Cost of Living, South Africa was consistently the 2nd most expensive for 1 GB, 2 GB, and 3 GB data contracts, with Brazil being the most expensive in all 3 cases. Data prices for South Africa were on average 134% more expensive than the cheapest prices in the group.

Tariffic’s CEO, Antony Seeff, agrees with Thabo “Tbo Touch” Molefe that South Africa’s data prices are “daylight robbery” and that data must fall. Says Seeff, “data has become a necessity in South Africa and is used for education, social services, and communication.” He continues, “We have seen that data prices in South Africa are still more expensive than 5 of the other comparable countries in our study, and we implore mobile network operators, ICASA, and even government to do whatever they can to ensure that data prices do fall.” Seeff notes that Tariffic saves companies hundreds of thousands of Rands every month by helping them manage their data, and other cellular costs, and that Tariffic consistently helps customers with exorbitant data bills. The company demonstrates that these high data bills are due to high data costs, out-of-bundle spend, and abusive cellular behaviour by employees. “Should data prices fall,” Seeff said “companies and individuals would be able to save on their cellphone bills, with savings going straight to their pockets.”

Research conducted by Research ICT Africa has shown that users, especially those in the lower income category, are spending significant portions of their income (around 20%), on relatively small amounts of data (1GB). Tariffic comments on these findings, saying “how can one be expected to pay for accommodation, transport, food, and other living expenses when you’re forced to pay 20% of your income on data?” The company commented that data is becoming a “human right” and that access to the Internet is a necessity in today’s society and should easily and affordably accessible by any and all South Africans.

Over the years, as technology has progressed from 2G to 4G, data speeds have increased exponentially and, at the same time, websites and apps are using significantly more data than they did a few years ago. Seeff comments that, “your 1 GB of data won’t get you as far as it would have a few years ago, and you would expect the prices to come down accordingly so that users will, at a minimum continue getting the same value for the same price. However, data prices haven’t come down to nearly the same degree over the years.”

Unfortunately, data prices won’t fall overnight, and Tariffic has provided some advice to those cellphone users who are spending too much on data. “The biggest pitfalls when it comes to data is to make sure you’re on the right data packages and/or bundles, and to ensure that you don’t go out of bundle”, says Seeff. He adds that Telkom and Cell C offer data packages that are substantially more affordable than those from MTN and Vodacom and that add-on data bundles can be bolted-on to a contract at any time, saving you from Day 1. In addition, Seeff encourages people to use the company’s free, web-based tools, available at, to find their perfect packages, and the best deals across all networks.


  • All international data contract prices were retrieved from the websites of the largest or second largest cellular operators in each country.
  • The prices for South Africa were calculated by taking an average of the data contract prices (and not data bundle prices) from all 4 mobile network operators in the country.
  • Where a certain country didn’t have a 1 GB, 2 GB, or 3 GB bundle available, Tariffic extrapolated the theoretical price for this bundle based on other bundle prices offered by the operator.
  • All prices were then converted to Rands and divided by the Cost of Living index, available at .


Tariffic was founded in 2011 to help consumers and businesses save money on their cellphone bills. Tariffic’s mission is to help cellphone users understand, optimise, and manage their cellphone spend and cellular usage.

Tariffic’s award-winning software has been recognised as a unique innovation, on an international scale. In 2012 Tariffic was awarded a Support Program for Industrial Innovation (SPII) grant for global innovation by the Department of Trade & Industry deeming components of its software a world first. In 2013 Tariffic was invited to the Enterprise Technology Show to present and discuss its global innovation, and in 2014 Tariffic was a finalist in Microsoft’s Start Up Tel-Aviv competition and a guest at the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa’s prestigious Innovation Summit, to name a few accolades. In 2016, Tariffic received Frost & Sullivan’s 2016 New Product Innovation Award in the Value-Added services industry in South Africa. Tariffic is also a graduate of Microsoft’s BizSpark and BizSpark+ programmes.

Tariffic is partly owned by Saicom Holdings. The Saicom group of companies are leaders in business telecommunication, largely focusing on telephony systems for corporate clients, VoIP operators, and international Telco carriers. Through its subsidiaries, including Saicom Voice Services and Saicom Technology, Saicom have rolled out telecommunications solutions to government departments, municipalities, financial institutions, and some of the largest call centres and corporations around South Africa and the African continent.


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