Africa tops internet divide – paying more for slower speeds

Lower income countries work three times longer to pay for internet that is three times slower than higher income countries, says Surfshark study

The internet divide between countries of high and low incomes continues to grow wider, according to a new study from Surfshark.

This study, based on data from the digital wellbeing index (DQL 2022), says people from lower income countries have to work three times longer than higher income countries for internet that is ultimately three times slower.

Put into online context, that makes video calling virtually impossible, pushing people from lower income countries into an increasingly difficult position bearing in mind global trends towards remote working caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerated digital transformation.

It’s not only when it comes to speed where poorer nations are missing out. Access to the internet in Africa is 79% less affordable than Europe, and even further behind Oceania which has the most affordable access.

The study from Surfshark suggests the internet divide continues to deepen in lower-income countries – home to 3.29 billion people.
Dig a little deeper into the figures and although Africa has the lowest access to the internet with just 55% of the population (87% in Europe), North America has the second lowest penetration at just 67%.

Why the internet divide is a problem for lower-income countries

“People who can’t access the internet are cut off from the digital opportunities that people from higher-income countries have,” says Surfshark’s Lead Researcher Agneska Sablovskaja.

“Without internet access, people can’t study or work online, and they can’t grow their economy with digital exports. The internet is also very slow in lower-income countries. Even if people from these countries can afford the internet, they still face limitations in what they can do.”

Mobile and broadband both demonstrate global internet divide

The study shows people from lower-income countries work around 11 minutes more than higher-income countries to pay for 1GB of mobile internet that is also 49 Mbps slower. Lower-income countries work 17 minutes for 1 GB of mobile internet with 26 Mbps while higher-income countries work just 6 minutes for 1 GB with speeds of 75 Mbps.

Broadband internet paints a similar picture, with lower-income countries working 8 hours longer than higher-income countries for broadband that is 83 Mbps slower. Lower-income countries work 12 hours for broadband with 34.4 Mbps, while higher-income countries work just 4 hours for speeds averaging 117.8 Mbps.

While broadband internet tends to be much faster than mobile in higher-income countries, it is on a par with mobile in lower income countries.

Read the full study here https://surfshark.com/dql2022/internetdivide

ABOUT SURFSHARK

Surfshark is a privacy toolset to help users control their online presence. In 2021, Surfshark was recognised as the Most Innovative Security Service at the Cybersecurity Excellence Awards and a Must-have App in TechRadar's WFH Awards.

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