Slight improvement in SA’s digital quality of life

Despite a slight improvement in its digital wellbeing global ranking, SA still shows signs of weakness in terms of electronic infrastructure (e-infrastructure) and internet quality.

This is based on the latestDigital Quality of Life Index (DQL), compiled by cyber security firm Surfshark.

Now in its fourth year, Surfshark’s DQL study reveals the strengths and weaknesses of digital ecosystems around the world.

The 2022 iteration sampled the quality of digital wellbeing in 117 countries across the globe over five key pillars: internet affordability, internet quality, e-infrastructure, electronic government (e-government) and electronic security (e-security).

According to the report, SA now ranks 66th in the world in overall digital wellbeing − an improvement of two positions compared to last year.

South Africa’s e-government services come in 60th position, while internet quality and e-security rank 62nd and 65th, respectively.

The country is 39th in the world for internet affordability, which the report indicates is the best ranking out of the five digital index pillars.

South Africa placed first in Africa out of 23 countries, according to the report.

“The country has improved by two positions since last year's edition, rising from 68th to 66th. Out of all index pillars, SA's weakest spot is e-infrastructure (88th globally), which needs to improve by 70% to match the best-ranking country's result (Denmark's).”

Shoddy internet quality

The report says internet quality in SA is “comparatively mediocre”. Considering internet speed, stability and growth, it ranks 62nd in the world and is 8% worse than the global average.

The country’s internet quality was ranked in 63rd place globally in 2020.

“Regarding internet speed alone, SA's mobile internet ranks higher than fixed broadband in the global ranking, operating at 52.2Mbps/s (48th globally). Meanwhile, fixed broadband internet comes 70th (53.9Mbps/s).

“Compared to Kenya, SA's mobile internet is two times faster, while broadband is three times faster. Since last year, mobile internet speed in SA has improved by 16.5% (7.4Mbps), and fixed broadband speed has grown by 22.7% (10Mbps).

“In comparison, Singapore's residents enjoyed mobile speeds up to 104Mbps/s and fixed to as much as 261Mbps/s – that's the fastest internet in the world this year.”

Reasonably cost-effective

According to the DQL 2022, internet access in SA is moderately affordable compared to global standards, ranked at 39th position in the world.

“Residents can buy 1GB of mobile internet in SA for as cheap as 35 seconds of work per month, 13 times less than in Kenya.

“However, compared to Israel, which has the most affordable mobile internet in the world (5s per 1GB), South Africans work seven times more. Its affordability improved since the previous year, making people work 24 seconds less to afford the same mobile internet service.”

In the case of fixed broadband, it costs South Africans around five hours and six minutes of their working time each month, states the report.

“To afford it, South Africans have to work 16 times more than Israeli citizens, for whom the most affordable package costs only 19 minutes of work monthly. Since last year, broadband internet has become less affordable in SA, making people work three hours and 28 minutes more to afford fixed broadband internet service.”

General performance

Overall, seven out of the 10 highest-scoring countries are in Europe, which has been the case for the past three years, according to the study.

Israel ranks first in DQL 2022, pushing Denmark to the second place after its two-year lead. Meanwhile, Germany ranks third, and France and Sweden round up the top five of the 117 evaluated nations.

In terms of countries with the lowest DQL indices, the study lists Congo DRC, Yemen, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Cameroon as the bottom five countries.

Among African countries, Surfshark says people in SA enjoy the highest digital life quality.

Looking at countries included in last year's index, people have to work six minutes more to afford broadband internet in 2022, it states.

“In some countries, such as Ivory Coast and Uganda, people work an average of two weeks to earn the cheapest fixed broadband internet package.

“With the current inflation, the pressure on low-income households that need the internet has become even heavier. The study also found that countries with the poorest internet connection have to work for it the longest.”

Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, head of PR at Surfshark, notes: “While countries with a strong digital quality of life tend to be those of advanced economies, our global study found money doesn't always buy digital happiness.

"That is why, for the fourth year in a row, we continue analysing the digital quality of life to see how different nations keep up with providing the basic digital necessities for their citizens. Most importantly, our research seeks to show the full picture of the global digital divide that millions of people are suffering from."

See also