South Africa’s Inquiry into Data Prices


On the 2nd of December, the South African Competition Commission released a media statement regarding the data prices investigation. The Commission initiated the Inquiry in August 2017. South Africa's two biggest mobile-phone companies - Vodacom Group Ltd. and MTN Group Ltd. have been under scrutiny for the last few years regarding their data prices, and the Competition Commission of South Africa has finally released final findings and recommendations for data services market enquiry earlier this week.

According to the release, Vodacom Group Ltd. and MTN Group must agree to reduce tariffs by a further 30% to 50% within two months or face sanctions for abusing its dominant position. The Head of South African Competition Commission, Tembinkosi Bonakele, has commented on the issue in the televised hearing in Pretoria - "We will not continue debating... We want to move with urgency."

This inquiry and urgency have followed the persistent concerns expressed by the public about the high level of data prices and the importance of data affordability for the development of the South African economy and its consumers. 

The recommendation to lower the prices was based on the thorough research carried out by the South African Competition Commission that found the evidence to confirm that South Africa's prices are too high. The media statement outlined the findings one of which included comparisons of the rates charged by the aforementioned companies in other African markets in which they operate confirmed that South African prices are higher than most countries by inadequate amount.
In the digital age, having access to the internet through affordable data rates is critical for business development on all levels. The research carried out by the South African Competition Commission, and follow-up recommendations are vital to the further development of the economy and customer satisfaction.