Africa’s internet speed is still below the global average — Quartz Africa

Even the country with Africa’s highest mobile internet speeds is not close to the global average. This is according to the 2022 Speedtest Global Index, published by US-based internet speed analysis company Ookla. South Africa, the leader in internet speeds on the continent, averages mobile internet download speeds of 68.9 megabits per second (Mbps), well below the global average mobile download speeds of 77.7 Mbps.

South Africa ranks 46th globally, followed by Togo, Mauritius, Morocco and Botswana in Africa for download speeds.

The world’s highest mobile internet speeds are in the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Qatar, Bulgaria and Norway with speeds of 258 Mbps, 242.3 Mbps, 241.7 Mbps, 216.6 Mbps and 100 Mbps, respectively. 191.3 Mbps.

Internet speed in Africa and 5G

Ookla also compared mobile internet performance in the second quarter of
2022 on modern chipsets from 21 mobile network operators, with the results showing that mean download speeds in Guinea were only 2.89 Mbps and in South Africa 65.95 Mbps.

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“We can clearly see the impact of 5G on overall performance as South African operators have been at the forefront thanks to existing 5G networks. Despite the challenges of load shedding, MTN South Africa was well ahead of the other operators with an average download speed of 65.95 Mbit/s, followed by Vodacom South Africa with an average download speed of 48.70 Mbit/s. If we take 5G out of the equation, Safaricom Kenya was the fastest operator among the operators analyzed,” says Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Industry Analyst, Enterprise at Ookla, in the report.

While more than 13 nations are testing 5G networks, over 40 nations have yet to lay the groundwork for 5G spectrum creation. This could shut them out from the burgeoning global digital economy that requires reliable and fast internet.

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Airtel Uganda has the highest median mobile upload speed in Africa at 14.84Mbps, while MTN Guinea in Guinea has the lowest – 1.55Mbps, meaning the continent is lagging behind in the social media video revolution.

Internet outages and shutdowns slow down Internet speeds

Internet outages contribute to Africa’s slow speed, with the survey showing that users reported 46,810 incidents for Vodacom and 34,882 for MTN, which has a presence in 17 African countries, in Q2 2022.

“Two main issues were reported: no signal and no mobile internet: the majority (46%) of the outages reported by Vodacom were due to no signal, followed by the inability to access mobile internet (36%),” reads in the study. But this was reversed with MTN, where most problems were related to mobile internet (43%), followed by no signal (40%). “Notable is the fact that there have been reports of total blackouts: 7% for Vodacom and 5% for MTN.”

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Nearly half of countries in Africa are notorious for internet censorship, with power outages, total shutdowns, social media restrictions and throttling causing the continent to lose billions of dollars over the past four years.

The survey also notes that mobile internet performance depends on the reliability of the underlying infrastructure, “such as access to fiber backhaul and reliable power supply, availability of spectrum, as well as end devices.”

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