The #DataMustFall trend was started by Tbo Touch in 2016 to draw attention to the profound prices of wireless data in the country. The majority of South Africans are connected to the Internet through their mobile devices, yet it is extremely costly to stay connected when data providers charge their consumers substantial amounts for data. Comparing the cheapest data packages of different African countries, South Africa’s does not even make the top 10.
Furthermore, South Africa has the 3rd largest economy in the continent, giving no excuse for the cost of data. With such a great number of businesses moving online, and the majority of people staying in touch via social media, it is unacceptable that one may have to give up close to 15% of their income to stay connected to the mobile economy and online community. What makes this even more outrageous is that Mozambique, the country’s poorest neighbour is ranked 2nd for lowest prices in comparison to South Africa, placed at 16th.
The Significance of Being Connected
Digital (internet) consumption is now significantly a larger than South Africa’s energy and agriculture sectors. As the internet continues to expand and more and more people continue to get connected, it accounts for a significant portion of the global and local GDP. The Internet houses a remarkable amount of economic traffic and commerce activity, in addition to communication, transactions, downloads, streaming, online gaming, and a great number of other tasks; all of which influence the GDP.
The Internet does not solely fall into the technology sector, as its impact affects every sector and its influence on the country’s economy is rapidly growing. What does this mean for South Africa?
Far too many people in South Africa do not have internet access for the main reason that they cannot afford data. The easiest way to find a job in 2018 is via internet access. One can access hundreds of sites with job listings. And though many people might have a mobile device, and possibly even a smart phone, many are still unable to cover data costs and actually access these opportunities.
This lack of access will continue to hold the country back, because it will hold people back; it makes finding a job infinitely more tedious and difficult than it already is. Internet access is needed to register for schools and programs, to register businesses, to create a social account, to discover potential business opportunities, etc.
With South Africa having data costs among the highest in the world, it makes it close to impossible to effectively improve the country’s job development. These findings suggest that carriers will need to decrease the costs of data and place a focus on creating opportunities via internet access.