Much of 2018’s growth in internet users in Africa has been driven by more affordable smartphones and mobile data plans.
Mobile phone users in Africa are up by more than 20 percent, with the reported number of internet users in Mali increasing by almost 6 times since January 2017.
The number of internet users in Benin, Sierra Leone, Niger, and Mozambique has also more than doubled over the past year. The fastest average mobile download speed in Africa was 22.42 Mbps in Q1 2018, this is according to data from Speedtest Intelligence.
Mobile data connections are getting faster all over the world, with GSMA Intelligence reporting that more than 60 % of mobile connections can now be classified as ‘broadband’.
Average mobile connection speeds increased by more than 30 % over the past year, an important statistic since faster connections may also help to reduce stress.
Results are updated at the beginning of the month for the previous month. This list is based on results for the month of May. To be ranked in each category, countries must have at least 670 unique user results for mobile and at least 3,333 for fixed broadband. Drawing from the list on Speedtest Intelligence, IT News Africa compiled a list of the 14 African countries with the fastest mobile internet.
Download Speed (Mbps)-19.21
Upload Speed (Mbps)-7.99
Taking the first spot in Africa, is Tunisia. The North African country is ranked 71st globally. Tunisia ranked 1st in Africa by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI), showing an improvement in the country’s innovations. The country’s startup scene has in large part expanded since the 2011 revolution, thanks to faster, freer Internet access and advances in technology. In May 2018, there was a launch of Carte Technologique Internationale, a prepaid bank card system. The bank card allows startup entrepreneurs to make payments in foreign currency through foreign sites.
Download Speed (Mbps)-18.52
Upload Speed (Mbps)-9.08
In 2017 the Africa Capacity Report, Morocco scored the highest index values in science, technology, and innovation. The report examined the status of science technology and innovation, scientific and technological initiatives, challenges, and capacity gaps for African countries. The number of Moroccan internet subscribers in 2007 amounted to 526,080, representing an increase of 31.6% compared to the previous year and a 100% increase compared to 2005. 3G services were introduced in Morocco in 2006. In March 2015, the Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Telecommunications (ANRT) in Morocco announced the launch of 4G. The ANRT allocated 4G licenses to three of their telecommunications operators. The North African country is ranked 72nd globally and second in Africa.
Download Speed (Mbps)-15.89
Upload Speed (Mbps)-7.67
The North African country is ranked 3rd in Africa and 85th globally. Smartphone users in Egypt are expected to reach almost 28 million by 2019. Although in 2017, the country recorded a decline in mobile phone sales, Egypt saw an increase in 2017 which reached 48%. The North Africa country had the first smartphone manufactured by the Ministry of Communication-affiliated SICO Technology. The smartphone was made with a LE 400 million investment in the company’s factory in Assiut. SICO mobile phones are now the first local brand in the industry as the percentage of local components is 45%. Mobile phone subscriptions in Egypt recorded 110% in January of 2017, with 98.2 million users according to the Ministry of Communication. Mobile internet users registered 26.16 million subscriptions by the same month.
Download Speed (Mbps)-15.39
Upload Speed (Mbps)-7.82
According to the Kenya ICT Authority’s ICT Masterplan, in 2017 the ICT sector contributed up to 8% of the country’s GDP. The East African country has a mobile phone penetration of 83%, a larger fraction of the population accessed the internet compared to those in other Sub-Saharan countries. A report by Jumia states that the high mobile penetration in Kenya was driven by the arrival of aggressive entrants, such as Hong Kong-based Transsion Holdings whose, brands include Tecno, Itel and Infinix. The country has more than 25 digital credit providers, with new services being launched continually. Data from Jumia Kenya shows that it sold over 250,000 smartphones in 2017. Smartphones accounted for 97% of all phones sold (3% feature phones) by Jumia Kenya, with 68% of sales taking place in Nairobi. Kenya is ranked 4th in Africa and 87th globally.
5. Côte d’Ivoire
Download speed (Mbps)-14.71
Upload Speed (Mbps)-8.46
Côte d’Ivoire has two competing fixed network operators, but the fixed-line sector is dominated by CI-Telecom. In 2011 Côte d’Ivoire launched LTE coverage which covers roughly 80% of the population. Cote d’Ivoire has three main players – Orange, MTN and Moov (now owned by Etisalat’s Maroc Telecom) – and three very, very small also-rans: Café Mobile (a local operator), Comium and LapGreen. The West African country takes the fifth spot in Africa and ranked 91st globally.
Download Speed (Mbps)-13.24
Upload Speed (Mbps)-5.84
The mobile market in Mauritius had a penetration of 146% by late 2017. Mobile subscription penetration in the East African country is the highest amongst its peers at over 70%. 4G networks have played a major role in the high penetration rate in Mauritius. The East African country is ranked 101 globally and 6th in Africa. Mauritius launched a nationwide WiMAX wireless broadband network in 2005 and launched 3G services in 2014. The government has also supported the building of a national Wi-Fi network, with additional fund set aside in the 2017-18 budget. Mobile market, with penetration at 146% by late 2017, is migrating from voice to data services. There are three network operators Mauritius Telecom (in partnership with Orange Group), Emtel (operated by the Currimjee Jeewanjee Group and Bharti Enterprises), and Mahanagar (a subsidiary of MTNL which is also the island’s second fixed-line operator using CDMA2000 technology).
Download Speed (Mbps)-10.82
Upload Speed (Mbps)-8.19
In 2017, Namibia’s mobile phone network coverage increased to 95%. The country’s active mobile broadband subscribers increased from 1.5 million to 1.6 million people from June 2016 to June 2017. Mobile phones are a central part of life for most Namibians, most people in the country using their mobile phones to access the Internet. Mobile telephony penetration in 2018 passed 110%, with about 2,35 million active customers for both Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) combined. More than 80 000 customers access the internet through a personal computer or tablet and over 470 000 via their mobile phones. The Southern African country is ranked 7th in Africa and 106th globally.
Download Speed (Mbps)-10.04
Upload Speed (Mbps)-4.23
The number of subscribers grew in 2017 resulting in 84% penetration from 53% in 2016 for both features and smartphones. Nigeria, with an estimated population of 193 million, has 162 million mobile subscriptions, which amount to 84% of the population. Nigeria started off with the launch of ntel’s LTE-Advanced network in 2017, that being the first of its kind in the country. Internet penetration in Nigeria is put at 47%, according to the ITU, and according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there were just over 90 million active mobile internet subscriptions on GSM and CDMA networks as of April 2017. The West African country is ranked 8th in Africa and takes the number 108 spot globally.
Upload Speed (Mbps)-4.94
In 2017, Tanzania saw that 99.6% of internet subscriptions were mobile network subscriptions, while 0.4 % were on a fixed network. Mobile network subscriptions decreased by -0.2 % in 2017 and the internet users in Tanzania rose by 16% at the end of 2017 to 23 million, the majority of those using their handsets to go online. According to a report by Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), around 19 million internet users in Tanzania accessed the world wide web in 2017 through their mobile phones, up from 18 million in 2016. Major mobile phone operators in Tanzania include Vodacom Tanzania, a unit of South Africa’s Vodacom, and Tigo Tanzania. The East African country is ranked at 112th globally and 9th in Africa.
Download Speed (Mbps)-8.55
Upload Speed (Mbps)-3.96
This East African country is ranked 115th globally and 10th in Africa. According to a Jumia report released in 2017, there are 2.6 million Ugandans active on social media. The country had a 44% Internet Penetration Rate in 2017. The Jumia study also revealed that mobile remains foremost in browsing the Jumia Website with 77% of the traffic while 23% is on Desktop. Jumia further stated that mobile subscription penetration in Uganda was at 65% driven by a competitive mobile landscape, which has proved to be favourable to Ugandan consumers. The Uganda Communications Commission which regulates the industry revealed that Uganda registered a 14.5% growth in mobile internet subscriptions, adding an estimated 1.6m new subscribers.
Download Speed (Mbps)-8.25
Upload Speed (Mbps)-4.19
The West African country is ranked 11th in Africa and comes in at the 116th spot globally. In the first quarter of 2016, the number of mobile subscribers increased by 2.6%. Orange Group’s local subsidiary 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 and Sudatel’s local unit Expresso, which have a 23 percent and 21% market share, respectively. In June 2016, Sonatel secured a 17-year LTE licence (reduced from 20 years), as well as an extension to its fixed-line, 2G and 3G operating concessions (which have been due to expire in 2017) for no additional cost. The LTE licence includes the use of 10MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band and 10MHz in the 800MHz band. Sonatel must provide 70% population coverage within five years and 90% coverage within ten years.
Download Speed (Mbps)-7.88
Upload Speed (Mbps)-4.27
Ranked 118th globally and 12th in Africa, Ghana has 36.6 million mobile subscriptions. In 2016, the mobile internet subscriber penetration in Ghana was 14% and for Africa 28% penetration. Ghana has 7.96 million internet users with an internet penetration rate of 18%. According to Jumia, smartphone adoption will rise up to 720 million smartphones by 2020. The Jumia report further revealed that there are 10.11million active internet users in Ghana meaning nearly one-third of the country’s population have access to the internet. A report by global digital agencies, We Are Social and Hootsuite shows that Ghana has 5.6 million active social media users, 19.53 million mobile users and 4.90 active social media users – an increase of 22% (one million) on the January 2017 figure.
Download speed (Mbps)-7.53
Upload speed (Mbps)-4.86
Mobile penetration is relatively low in Alegria. The regulator issued LTE licenses in September 2016. The country looks to expand LTE rapidly in the coming years and will go far to deliver mobile broadband to rural areas as per the Universal Service Telecommunications (UTS) program. There is intensifying competition in terms of price between the three Mobile Network Operators – Algerie Telecom’s Mobilis, Orascom’s Djezzy, and Wataniya’s Ooredoo Algeria. There is also a national fibre backbone which was augmented with a new subsea link to Valencia in April 2017. Algeria is also part of the 4,500km terrestrial Trans-Saharan Backbone network which will connect the national network with other fibre networks in the region. Algeria is ranked 13th in Africa and 121 globally.
Download speed (Mbps)-4.31
Upload speed (Mbps)-1.25
Due to heightened national security issues, telecom services in Libya have been regularly disrupted, particularly in the eastern region of the country. In June 2017, mobile and landline services were restored in Sirte after they had been disconnected by the Islamic State (a group ejected from the city after a two-year occupation). In July 2017, the main mobile network provider, Libyana, disconnected SIM cards owned by foreigners on the basis that criminals and radical groups had been using the company’s network for their activities. Reregistering a SIM card now requires proof of ID. Mobile voice market is approaching higher saturation, supported by some of the lowest tariffs on the continent and one of the highest per capita GDP levels. Opportunities remain in the broadband sector where market penetration is still relatively low. So far only one of the country’s mobile networks has launched third-generation (3G) broadband services. Libya ranked 125th globally and takes the number 14 spot in Africa.
By Fundisiwe Maseko
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