Unemployed youth say they go hungry for internet access

todayMay 18, 2024 54

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Unemployed young people protesting for lower data costs say high data prices have forced them to choose between food and buying data.

In the age of the internet, the young people say high data costs have made online job hunting an expensive exercise.

The young people joined demonstrations by organisation, Friends for a Free Internet, outside the Icasa offices in Centurion, demanding an end to expensive data.

A study by found that on average, South Africans were spending roughly R35 for a gig of data.

That’s in stark comparison to the world’s cheapest internet country, Israel, whose users pay just 38c a gig.

Speaking with YNews, demonstrator Magaiva Moshokoa (30), said he’s often forced to use his last R10 deciding whether to buy a loaf of bread or data.

The unemployed job seeker says higher data costs have made finding a job difficult.

Unemployed mom of three, Lesego Letlhake, says her children are being disadvantaged at school because she cannot afford internet access.

As South Africans prepare to vote on the 29th of May, Letlhake has slammed “out-of-touch” politicians for not taking her plight more seriously.

The demonstrators say telecommunications watchdog, Icasa, has failed to hold cellphone companies accountable.

They insist that the telecommunications companies are profiting at the expense of poor people.

According to reports, South African telecommunication giant Vodacom, made a profit of R30.7 billion last year.

It’s money that HIV/AIDS activists say could have been better spent investing in communities.

Xabisa Qwabe from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says young people are being infected with HIV and TB daily, because they don’t have access to health information.

She says affordable data, will help to empower them.

Meanwhile, Icasa says it will take at-least one year to see a reduction in data costs for South Africans.

Speaking with YNews, Icasa’s Charles Lewis admitted that more consultation with communities is needed, especially where data price regulation is concerned.

He’s urged frustrated internet users to join the public hearings when data plans and regulations are being set.

“MTN tells us what they want us to do, Vodacom, Telkom tell us…but we don’t hear the voices of ordinary citizens, and it’s important we begin to hear that voice,” he told YNews. Written by Naomi Kobbie

Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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