The emergence of the internet has brought substantial economic advantages across the globe. It has allowed people to improve the quality of their lives and opened access to previously inaccessible things.
According to a 2020 report, there are 525 million internet users in Africa. The figure surpasses those in Latin America and the Caribbean (447 million) and 174 million in the Middle East.
The African country with the fastest average fixed broadband speed tops the speeds in many developed countries, including the U.K. and Australia.
Despite this, internet speeds in many African countries still generally lag behind many countries in the developed world.
The list of countries with the highest broadband speed was recently ranked by Positive Africa, with data collected by Cable.co.uk. The index ranks 207 countries for average fixed-line broadband internet speeds.
Interestingly, countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Tunisia, Morocco, and Kenya, all of which appeared in the 2019 ranking, were knocked off in the 2020 ranking.
Madagascar has the fastest internet in Africa, clocking in at an improved average speed of 32.07Mbps, placing it 33rd globally and ahead of developed countries like the U.K. and Australia.
The improvement is thanks to the underwater Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System that supplies the Island's urban centers with fiber broadband speeds, according to Cable.co.uk.
Madagascar had Africa's fastest internet in 2018, too, after taking the title from Kenya in the same year.
2. Cape Verde
Cape Verde now has the second-fastest broadband speeds in Africa, but overall the islands off the west coast of Africa place 136th in the world with average speeds of around 27.53Mbps.
The improvement raised the Island country from ninth in the previous year.
Interestingly, as of early 2017, only about 19% of the Cape Verdean population owned an active cellular phone, with only 70% of them having access to the Internet. Through conscious efforts by government and stakeholders like Vizocom – one of the largest ISPs in the country, internet accessibility has greatly improved within the last three years.
The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelagic island country in the Indian Ocean at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea.
With a population of 98,347 people at mid-year, according to UN data and an internet speed of 26.76Mbps, Seychelles is currently ranked third in Africa.
As one of the most after tourists’ destinations in Africa, there is no surprise that the Island country has invested massively in internet connectivity.
Most resorts, hotels, and guesthouses in Seychelles have free WiFi. Internet cafés are also available on the three main islands of Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue to give internet access to locals.
As one of the countries absent from the top 10 rankings in 2019, Ghana has again proved to be a country on the right path by ranking fourth with an internet speed of 23.98Mbps serving 30.4 million people.
According to bandwidth place, Ghana's internet speed hovers around an average of 1.46 Mbit/s upload across most of the internet-enabled devices tested.
One reason behind the noticeable improvement in Ghana’s telecom industry is the healthy competition between internet service providers.
MTN, Tigo, Airtel and Surfline – all available in the country are always improving to serve the best services possible and win the crown as ‘Ghana’s fastest internet service provider’.
5. South Africa
The latest research shows that South Africa's average download speed is 23.17Mbps, and the time it takes to download a typical 5GB high-definition movie is one hour and 21 minutes.
Surprisingly, after improving from third to second in 2019, the country fell down the ranks to fifth in 2020 after services in other African countries were developed.
Over 60% of Internet traffic generated on the African continent originates from South Africa. As of July 2016, 29.3 million people (54.00% of the total population) were Internet users. The percentage has greatly increased over time.
Yes, as hard as it is to believe for many critics. Gabon made the top 10 list. With a population of 2.1 million people and an internet speed of 21.89Mbps, there was no stopping Gabon from clinching the 6th spot.
In just a few years, Gabon has made spectacular strides in internet access. Today, it is impossible these days to drive around the cities of Gabon without noticing the large billboards promoting internet access at rates that were unimaginable only a few years ago.
The World Bank continues to support Gabon’s aspirations in this area, notably through the e-Gabon – project designed to promote the modernization of the national health information system.
Liberia speeds up to number 7 on the 2020 ranking with a population of 4.9 million people and an internet speed of 21.34Mbps.
A 2012 report by the World Bank stated that "access to bandwidth in Liberia is among the lowest in the region with internet penetration as low as 0.5 percent.
Since Liberia is not connected to an international fiber-optic network, it relies on costly satellite connectivity for all its telecommunications needs." It appears this is no longer the case.
Earlier this year, the government revealed its plans to achieve maximum internet coverage as quickly as possible. In that regard, it "will extend and improve the digital coverage of the territory," revealed Cina Lawson, Togolese Minister of Posts, Digital Economy and Technological Innovation.
It appears the country has begun matching words with action. With a population of 8.01 million people and an internet speed of 20.14Mbps, Togo is currently ranked 8th in Africa.
Mauritius's island country has made significant improvements over the past year, doubling the average broadband speeds available in the country.
In 2018, the country responsible for Africa's current ninth-fastest internet speeds was only ranked 139th globally with speeds of 2.39Mbps.
Mauritius is now much improved in the world ranking thanks to infrastructure improvements providing increased speeds of around 19.24Mbps.
Senegal's population of 16.3 million people has access to 18.65Mbps internet speed.
According to a Wikipedia report, internet service is widely available in Dakar and other towns either by private subscription or through Senegal's extensive network of "telecentres" and internet cafés.
Senegal’s economic growth has improved steadily in recent years, with GDP having grown at about 7% in 2017 and 2018. This has translated into consistent growth in the telecom market, with the number of mobile subscribers having increased 4.5% in the year to June 2018.
Orange Group’s local subsidiary Orange Senegal (Sonatel) is the dominant player in both the fixed-line and mobile sectors, though there is effective competition in the mobile sector from Tigo Senegal (now owned by Saga Africa Holdings) and Sudatel’s local unit Expresso, which have a 24% and 22% market share, respectively.