SA has best digital quality of life in Africa

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 20 Sept 2023
Out of the Digital Quality of Life Index’s five pillars, South Africa performed best in internet affordability, claiming 52nd place.
Out of the Digital Quality of Life Index’s five pillars, South Africa performed best in internet affordability, claiming 52nd place.

While South Africans have the best digital quality of life on the African continent, the country has slipped on the global ranking.

This is according to Surfshark’s fifth annual Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index, which ranks South Africa number one in Africa, but 72nd in the world (dropping by six places from last year).

The DQL Index 2023 examined 121 nations (92% of the global population) based on five core pillars – internet affordability, internet quality, electronic infrastructure, electronic security and electronic government – that consist of 14 indicators.

The study is based on United Nations open-source information, the World Bank and other sources.

According to the report, out of the index’s five pillars, South Africa performed best in internet affordability, claiming 52nd place, while facing challenges in e-infrastructure, ranking 94th.

The nation ranks 61st in e-government, 63rd in internet quality and 72nd in e-security.

In the overall index, South Africa surpasses Kenya (76th) and Nigeria (88th). Overall, Surfshark says African countries lag behind in the index, but SA takes first place in the region.

“In many nations, ‘digital quality of life’ has merged into the broader concept of overall ‘quality of life’. There’s no other way to look at it now that so many daily activities − including work, education and leisure − are done online,” says Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokesperson.

“That’s why it’s crucial to pinpoint the areas in which a nation’s digital quality of life thrives and where attention is needed, which is the precise purpose of the DQL Index.”

The report adds that fixed internet averages 70Mbps in South Africa.

“To put that into perspective, the world’s fastest fixed internet – Singapore’s – is 300Mbps. Meanwhile, the slowest fixed internet in the world – Yemen’s – is 11Mbps,” says Surfshark.

It adds that in SA, mobile internet averages 68Mbps. The fastest mobile internet – the UAE’s – is 310Mbps, while the world’s slowest mobile internet – Venezuela’s – is 10Mbps.

According to the report, since last year, mobile internet speed in SA has improved by 30%, while fixed broadband speed has grown by 30%.

Compared to Kenya, it notes, SA’s mobile internet is 79% faster, while fixed broadband is 228% faster.

It adds that South Africans have to work one hour, 43 minutes a month to afford fixed broadband internet.

“While this is less than average, it is six times more than in Romania, which has the world’s most affordable fixed internet (Romanians have to work 18 minutes a month to afford it).

“South Africans have to work one hour, 26 minutes, one second a month to afford mobile internet. This is five times more than in Luxembourg, which has the world’s most affordable mobile internet (Luxembourgers have to work 16 minutes a month to afford it),” the report reveals.

Surfshark explains that the e-security pillar measures how well a country is prepared to counter cyber crime, as well as how advanced a country’s data protection laws are.

It points out SA lags behind Kenya, which ranks 65th, but outperforms Nigeria (73rd) in the e-security pillar.

In the global context, SA is unprepared to fight against cyber crime, and the country doesn’t have very advanced data protection laws, says the firm.

South Africa is 94th in e-infrastructure and 61st in e-government.

“Advanced e-infrastructure makes it easy for people to use the internet for various daily activities, such as working, studying, shopping, etc,” says Surfshark.

“This pillar evaluates how high internet penetration is in a given country, as well as its network readiness (readiness to take advantage of ICT). South Africa’s internet penetration is low (58% – 97th in the world), and the country ranks 67th in network readiness.”

The firm adds the e-government pillar shows how advanced a government’s digital services are, and the level of artificial intelligence readiness a country demonstrates.

“South Africa’s e-government is similar to the global average, and it is ranked as the best in Africa.”