Kenya’s internet quality ranked 106th globally

Workers lay the fibre-optic cable in Nyeri town on August 18, 2020. Kenya's internet quality has been ranked 106th globally

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Kenya’s internet quality is one of the worst in the world, says a new global digital index.

On five fundamental digital life pillars, Kenya recorded the worst score, taking position 106th globally.

Considering speed, stability and growth, Kenya’s internet is 34 per cent worse than the global average.

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

Overall, seven of the 10 highest-scoring countries are in Europe, according to the 2022 global overview report conducted by Surfshark’s Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index.

The top internet performers globally were ranked based on internet affordability, quality, and e-infrastructure, e-security and e-government.

Israel topped the 2022 index, pushing Denmark to second place after its lead the previous two years.

Germany ranks third, and France and Sweden round up the top five of the 117 evaluated nations.

Regionally, the US stands out in the Americas as a country with the highest digital quality of life.

Among African countries, people in South Africa enjoy the highest digital life quality.

In Oceania, New Zealand takes the lead, outperforming Australia in various digital areas this year.

The Democratic Republic of (DRC), Yemen, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cameroon are the bottom five countries.

But there was some positive news about Kenya: it ranked 78th out of 117 countries on digital well-being.

Kenya’s best performance was in e-infrastructure (61st); e-security (74th); and e-government and internet affordability (93rd).

In the face of rising inflation, fixed broadband internet has become less affordable worldwide for the second year in a row, prying the global digital divide even further.

The DQL study is conducted by the cybersecurity company Surfshark.

It evaluates countries based on five fundamental digital well-being pillars: internet quality, e-government, e-infrastructure, internet affordability, and e-security.

This year, Kenya comes at the lower end of the index, ranking 78th and only making it into the top 80 in the final index. However, Kenya ranks fifth in Africa.

“Kenya has improved by one position since last year's edition, rising from 79th to 78th. Out of all index pillars, Kenya's weakest spot is internet quality, which needs to improve by 140 per cent,” states the report that was released on Thursday.

Internet quality in Kenya is very weak, and on a global scale mobile internet is better than the fixed one.

Regarding internet speed alone, Kenya's mobile internet ranks higher than fixed broadband in the global ranking, operating at 24 Mbps/s (94th globally).

Meanwhile, the fixed broadband internet comes 101st (19.4 Mbps/s).

Compared with South Africa, Kenya's mobile internet is two times slower, while broadband is three times slower.

Since last year, mobile internet speed in Kenya has improved by 14.5 per cent (3.1 Mbps), and fixed broadband speed has grown by 8.5per cent (1.5 Mbps).

The internet in Kenya is not affordable compared with global standards, and there's a lot of room for improvement, says the report.

Kenya's internet affordability ranks 93rd in the world.

Residents can buy 1GB of mobile internet in Kenya for as little as seven minutes 34 seconds of work per month, 13 times more than in South Africa.

However, compared to Israel, which has the most affordable mobile internet on the planet (5s per 1GB), Kenyans work 92 times more.

Its affordability improved from the previous year, making people work 80 seconds less to afford the same mobile internet service.                  

Fixed broadband costs Kenyans around eight hours 12 minutes of their precious working time each month.

To afford it, Kenyans have to work 25 times more than Israeli citizens, for whom the most affordable package costs only 19 min of work monthly.

Since last year, broadband internet has become more affordable in Kenya, making people work four hours and 36 minutes less to afford fixed broadband internet service. 

The global digital divide is now deeper than ever

Globally, broadband is getting less affordable each year. Looking at countries included in last year's index, people have to work six minutes more to afford broadband internet in 2022.

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 current inflation, the pressure on low-income households that need the internet has become even heavier.

Surfshark's study also found that countries with the poorest internet connection have to work for it the longest.

"While countries with a strong digital quality of life tend to be those of advanced economies, our global study found that money doesn't always buy digital happiness," explains Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, head of public relations at Surfshark.

"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."

The 2022 DQL research examined more than 7.2 billion people regarding five core pillars and 14 underpinning indicators that provide a comprehensive measure.

The study is based on the United Nations open-source information, the World Bank, Freedom House, the International Communications Union, and other sources.

This year's study includes seven (six per cent) more countries than DQL 2021, most of which are in Africa.