Africa has the slowest internet speed globally despite emergence of 5G and Starlink- Cable Report

Michael Akuchie
Africa still has the slowest internet speed globally Despite launch of 5G and Starlink

Despite the entry of Starlink, 5G infrastructure, and other steps to boost internet penetration, a study from Cable shows that Africa still has a slow internet speed. According to the worldwide broadband speed league table, the Sub-Saharan region occupies 12th place (second to last). Interestingly, Northern Africa is in last place. 

Cable says the data was collected within a 12-month period that ended on June 30 2023. It adds that it conducted 1.3 billion speed tests in 220 countries and territories during that time. 

Cable notes that some countries aren’t included in the report because less than 100 samples were taken from each of them. This group of countries includes Eritrea, North Korea, and the Central African Republic. 

Based on the table, Jersey (264 Mbps), Liechtenstein (246 Mbps), Macau (231 Mbps), Iceland (229 Mbps), and Gibraltar (206 Mbps) make the list of the top 5 countries with the fastest broadband. It’s worth adding that Jersey is the first territory in the world to provide pure fibre to every broadband user. Additionally, Jersey Telecom provides customers with a download speed of at least 944 MBps. For context, it would take a Jersey resident 2 minutes and 35 seconds to download a 5GB movie. 

Zooming into the bottom 5 countries, Equatorial Guinea (2.7 Mbps), East Timor (2.5 Mbps), Syria (2.3 Mbps), Yemen (1.79 Mbps), and Afghanistan (1.71 Mbps) have the slowest network speeds. Downloading a 5GB movie would take 6 hours and 38 minutes in Afghanistan.  

Chart showing internet speed by region. Credit: Cable
Chart showing internet speed by region. Credit: Cable

Read also: Nigeria’s mobile gender gap: 27% of female smartphones owners do not use the internet 

Sub-Saharan Africa’s internet speed in detail 

As mentioned, the SSA region comes in at 12th place, just one place above the last position on the table. Cable says it surveyed 47 countries in the region. Based on the findings, SSA has an average download speed of 12.11 Mbps. 30+ million speed tests were conducted while 3 million unique IPs were sampled. Cable reported that it would take an average of 1 hour and 29 minutes to download a 5GB movie. 

Meanwhile, Réunion (45.51Mbps, 79th), Rwanda (39.89Mbps, 99th), South Africa (36.46Mbps, 104th), and Burkina Faso (35.64Mbps, 108th) made it to the top half of the table with the best network speeds in the region. The remaining 43 countries occupied the bottom (slowest) half. Nigeria placed 133rd globally with 20.83 Mbps and an average download time of 32 minutes for a 5GB movie. 

Among the 43 countries, Equatorial Guinea (2.70Mbps, 216th), Cameroon (3.16Mbps, 213th), Ethiopia (3.54Mbps, and 212th), Burundi (3.70Mbps, 211th) formed the list of the 10 countries with the slowest network speeds. 

North Africa gets the lowest internet speed rating 

Known for being a rising star for fintech, North Africa has earned a new title: the region with the slowest network speed. Cable gave it the title seeing as it averaged a speed of 9.81Mbps. 

Cable conducted 14 million speed tests for North Africa with 4.4 million unique IPs included. According to the findings, it would take 1 hour and 15 minutes to download a 5GB movie in North Africa. Of the 6 countries surveyed, Morocco (16.49Mbps, 144th) had the region’s best internet speed. Egypt (9.75Mbps, 172nd) and Tunisia (9.60Mbps, 174th) place 2nd and 3rd respectively. 

Meanwhile, Libya offers the slowest network speed in the region with 6.32 Mbps. It sits in 195th place. Algeria (7.3 Mbps, 187th) and Mauritania (8.95 Mbps, 182nd) offer slightly better speeds. 

More needs to be done

The findings from Cable’s study point to one thing: Africa must invest heavily in ICT infrastructure. Aside from increasing network speeds, ICT investments also contribute to the continent’s economies. 

The rest of the continent can take a picture from Rwanda’s book. Despite being a landlocked nation with few resources, it has demonstrated serious growth potential. Following its incredible performance in the test, one can infer that its strides to boost the country’s internet penetration are yielding dividends. 

Following Starlink’s entry into the Rwandan market this year, the ICT ministry revealed that 50 schools already use the satellite internet for learning. This coupled with the government’s plans to equip teachers with a laptop before 2025 are noteworthy efforts. Studying Rwanda can be helpful to the rest of Africa, especially those with the slowest internet speeds. 

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