Much ado about nothing? Zero rating in the African context

A fresh, public-interested assessment of the zero-rating of certain applications (apps) and platforms in the African mobile prepaid environment is overdue. This policy paper examines the issue of zero-rating within the contexts of the range of discounted and dynamically-priced African mobile network operator (MNO) products, and the priority public policy issues facing the continent in relation to the Internet. The research is based on a four country assessment-Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

The key research – and indeed policy – issue underlying this paper is the extent to which African MNO zero-rating strategies for OTT services produce pro-poor outcomes, i.e., the extent to which these strategies enhance affordable access to the Internet. In addressing this question, this paper draws on a combination of the limited empirical fragments in the debate on zero-rating and the extensive pricing data collected across 50 African countries by RIA.

Authors: Alison Gillwald, Chenai Chair, Ariel Futter (South Africa), Kweku Koranteng (Ghana), Fola Odufuwa (Nigeria) and John Walubengo (Kenya).

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