What’s the real cost of owning a mobile phone?

Image: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Emma Luxton
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With the number of mobile subscriptions now outnumbering the world’s population, mobile phones have become an indispensable communication tool, both in developed and developing nations.

But the cost of owning a mobile phone varies considerably depending on where you live. Those are the findings of a report from the International Telecommunication Union, which shows the monthly cost of operating a mobile phone as a percentage of gross national income per capita.

In more developed countries, the cost of owning a mobile is much less than in some developing nations. For almost 50 countries surveyed, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Russia, the cost of running a mobile accounts for less than 1% of GNI.

In two countries – Central African Republic and Madagascar – it can cost more than 50% of GNI, while in 12 nations, it costs more than 25%.

At almost 18% of GNI, the cost of operating a mobile phone in Africa is much higher than all other regions. The Americas region is next, at 3.9% of GNI. In Europe, the average cost is 1.47% of GNI.

Although 8 in 10 people in the developing world now own a mobile phone, it is clear the operating costs are disproportionately high in certain countries and regions.

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