CAPE TOWN, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Friday threw its weight behind a campaign to bring down high data cost in the country.
The ANC believes that lowering the cost of data will be a catalyst for economic growth and unlock economic opportunities, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.
South Africa has the highest data costs among Africa's biggest economies and investors may be giving the country a wide berth as a result, according to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
Data costs in South Africa are higher than those in neighboring countries like Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho, where South Africa's major communications operators are also active. Data costs are six times more expensive in South Africa than in Egypt, a recent survey by the ICASA shows.
The ICASA identifies lack of competition and spectrum as two main reasons why the price of data will not drop in South Africa.
With only four major mobile communications companies MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom competing for customers, this is not likely to change soon, the survey says.
The ANC continues to be concerned about the negative impact that the high cost of data services has on ordinary South Africans, especially workers, youth, students and women, Mabe said.
"As a result of the high costs of data, the majority of our people are unable to enjoy the benefits of the digital economy in our democracy. It further stifles the growth and development of small businesses," he said.
The ANC encourages the government to take urgent steps to ensure full implementation of all policies and regulations in support of the ongoing "Data Must Fall" campaign, working together with the ICASA and all mobile operators in our country, said Mabe.
The mobile operators must demonstrate goodwill and lower data prices and allow the government to resolve the allocation of new spectrum, Mabe added.
At its recent consultation conference, the ANC resolved that the government must urgently issue policy for the allocation of radio frequency spectrum to the Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN), existing operators and new entrants before the country holds its Investment Summit in October.