Ookla – SA leads Africa in terms of 5G, MTN the fastest provider

Ookla, which owns the website you often use to do speed tests, has released some insights as regards the current state of broadband connectivity across the African continent.

The report specifically looks at Q2 2022 and in particular how different countries and regions are doing in terms of 5G rollout and the speeds being delivered.

“Ookla closely monitors the launch and widespread release of new device models built on chipsets capable of utilizing the latest mobile network technologies. We aggregated speeds across countries that fall within the five African regions as defined by the United Nations,” the company’s report explained.

“When looking at median download speeds in 2021, Southern Africa ranked first, with a median download speed of 37.89 Mbps, followed by Northern Africa at 25.63 Mbps, Central Africa at 18.73 Mbps, Eastern Africa at 18.31 Mbps, and Western Africa at 17.00 Mbps,” it highlighted.

Interestingly though, the Southern Africa region ranked second last across the continent in terms of upload speeds, with a median of 8.20Mbps.

There is also optimism that the recently launched Equiano subsea cable expected to bolster connectivity in a number of countries in the coming years.

“To support the growing demand for faster speeds there is a growing investment in both surface and undersea cables. For example, Google’s new subsea cable, the Equiano, landed in Togo in March 2022 and Nigeria in April 2022. The cable is set to become operational by the end of the year and is also expected to bring connectivity to areas such as Namibia, South Africa, and neighboring regions,” adds Ookla.

Looking a bit more closer at the numbers related to South Africa, it features two cities with the fastest median download speed – Johannesburg and Cape Town – with the former leading the way by some distance.

“When it comes to speeds in select African capital cities, Johannesburg was fastest with a median download speed of 65.54 Mbps — nearly 35% faster than that of the next-fastest city, Cape Town at 48.27 Mbps,” notes Ookla.

As for 5G, South Africa again leads the way, although the number of countries that have begun rolling out infrastructure and connectivity for the latest mobile broadband are slim for now at seven.

“South Africa was the first country in the region to launch 5G, and has since been joined by a handful of countries: Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Togo. According to GSA, there were nine commercial 5G networks in seven markets across the region by the end of May 2022. In these markets, 5G coverage remains limited to major cities,” explains Ookla.

The company also cited MTN as a key player in SA, with the operator having registered the fastest median 5G download speed of 213.37Mbps.

“In May 2020, Vodacom launched the first 5G network across Africa, in partnership with Nokia in the 3.5 GHz band. At the time of launch, the network was available in three cities — Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town — with a total of 190 5G sites. MTN followed in June 2020, using spectrum across 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, and 3500 MHz bands. In its latest report, MTN reported that in 2021, it had over 1,000 5G sites across several spectrum bands with plans to significantly scale up with 3.5GHz spectrum,” Ookla unpacks.

With MTN this week announcing plans to offer 5G connectivity in 25 percent of SA by the year’s end, it looks like the operator is setting the early pace for the country.

There is still some ways to go for connectivity across the African continent, but it’s clear from the latest Ookla report that the coming years will see rapid investment and rollout. Here’s hoping it’s not too costly for consumers.

[Image – Photo by Jacques Nel on Unsplash]


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