On the importance and availability of prepay mobile data in Africa. Slides, paper, discussion

I am at the fascinating M4D2010 conference in Kampala.  As part of an afternoon session on Access & Inclusion, I will present the following short paper:

Donovan, K., & Donner, J. (2010). A note on the availability (and importance) of pre-paid mobile data in Africa. In J. Svensson & G. Wicander (Eds.), 2nd International Conference on Mobile Communication Technology for Development (M4D2010) (pp. 263-267). Karlstad, Sweden: Karlstad University.

Here are links to the short paper and the slides.

Additional discussion of our project, particularly the crowdsourcing component, is available on Kevin’s blog.


We argue that clear and easy access to prepay data will be as essential to the widespread adoption and use of the mobile internet in developing countries as access to prepay airtime was to the adoption of the mobile telephone. In late 2009, we conducted a desk assessment of the availability of pre-pay (pay-as-you-go) data from major operators in 53 African countries. We identified at least one operator in 38 countries which offered pre-pay data, and in 3 cases we could determine that no prepay data was available. Information available from many operators was vague, incomplete, and hard to obtain, suggesting that a threshold of mainstream promotion of the service by operators may not yet have been crossed. We suggest topics for further research, both on the demand and supply sides of the prepaid data equation.