South Africa’s Internet speeds rank 90th out of 224 countries, according to Cable.co.uk’s latest Worldwide Broadband Speed League report.
The data was gathered by M-Lab, an open source project with contributors from civil society organisations, educational institutions, and private sector companies.
M-Lab is led by teams based at Code for Science and Society, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Google, and Princeton University’s PlanetLab.
The study analysed over 1.1 billion broadband speed tests worldwide.
Western Europe dominated the global speed table, containing eight of the top ten fastest countries in the world for broadband.
The self-governing dependency of Jersey boasts the fastest broadband in the world with an average speed of 274.27Mbps.
Macau (128.56Mbps) and Hungary (104.07Mbps) were the only two states in the top ten outside Western Europe.
Countries in Northern Africa had the slowest average speed globally (5.68Mbps), while Western European nations had the highest average speed (90.56Mbps).
The five countries in the world with the slowest network speeds were Turkmenistan (0.50Mbps), Yemen (0.68Mbps), Ethiopia (1.20), Guinea-Bissau (1.24Mbps), and Equatorial Guinea (1.30Mbps).
Three of the bottom five are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers said that all of these countries suffer from underdeveloped network infrastructure and low uptake of digital services among their populations.
“The acceleration of the fastest countries in the world has finally plateaued this year as they reach FTTP pure fibre saturation,” said Cable.co.uk consumer telecoms analyst Dan Howdle.
“Increases in speed among the elite performers, then, can be attributed in greater part to uptake in many cases than to network upgrades.”
Howdle said that although the countries occupying the bottom end of the table still suffer from extremely poor speeds, 2021’s data indicates that the situation is improving.
|Overall rank||Country||Mean download speed (Mbps)|
|120||Republic of the Congo||12.07|
|144||United Republic of Tanzania||8.60|
|204||São Tomé and Príncipe||2.43|
The study measured 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-slowest region on average (6.56Mbps).
Of the countries measured in the region, 46 were in the lowest 50% of countries in the league table.
Going against the trend somewhat were Réunion, South Africa, and Madagascar.
Six Sub-Saharan countries fell in the bottom ten countries in the world for broadband speed: Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Somalia.
Global broadband speeds — South Africa vs the world
The study found that the global average broadband speed continues to rise sharply.
Comparing their 2021 results to previous years, the researchers found that broadband speeds rose by an average of 20% around the world in the past year.
Since 2017, the average broadband speed has increased as follows:
- 2017 — 7.40Mbps
- 2018 — 9.10Mbps (+23.35%)
- 2019 — 11.03Mbps (+20.65%)
- 2020 — 24.83Mbps (+90%)
- 2021 — 29.79Mbps (+20%)
The researchers noted that the big jump in 2020 can be attributed to upgraded measurement tools.
South Africa is slowly clawing back up the rankings after seeing a sudden drop from 75th to 97th place in 2020.
|Worldwide Broadband Speed League — 2021|
|Rank||Country||Mean download speed (Mbps)|