Ramaphosa promises free data for low-income South Africans

Low-income households will receive free daily data to gain access to educational and other public interest websites, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday night during his State of the Nation Address.

Last year, the Competition Commission found that South Africa's mobile data prices were much higher than those of its African counterparts and a selection of other countries worldwide - with particularly MTN and Vodacom charging higher prices to domestic consumers than they do in other countries.

Among the key findings were that SA's data prices compared poorly to counterparts in the BRICS and SADC nations, and that the pricing structure of mobile data was "anti-poor" and "lacks transparency", Fin24 reported.

Lower income consumers could be exploited to a far greater degree than wealthier consumers, commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele found in April last year.

Ramaphosa said market inquiries into data services, the grocery retail market and health care had provided the basis for measures to reduce costs to consumers and make these sectors more competitive.

READ | Competition Commission wants Vodacom, MTN to reduce data prices

The president added that competition authorities were now working towards an agreement with the large mobile operators to secure deep cuts to data prices of pre-paid monthly bundles, saying the plan was for "additional discounts targeted at low-income households, a free daily allocation of data and free access to educational and other public interest websites."