As of 2022, internet in Africa is 83 per cent less affordable than in Oceania, the region with the most affordable internet, according to the 2022 Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index. The new study by Surfshark, a Netherlands-based VPN service company, also shows that the gap between the two regions has widened by more than 20 percentage points given that the internet has failed to become more affordable in Africa since 2021. Surfshark’s 2022 DQL Index reveals key insights into digital wellbeing across 117 countries (or 92 per cent of the global population). Each country ranks according to five pillars: internet quality, internet affordability, e-infrastructure, e-government, and e-security. According to the study, people from lower-income countries are at an instant disadvantage when it comes to internet accessibility. “Both mobile and broadband internet in lower-income countries are three times slower than in higher-income countries but are three times less affordable,” states the report. The study shows that internet accessibility varies greatly in quality and affordability depending on location, creating deep inequalities between lower and higher-income countries. “People from lower-income countries work approximately 11 minutes more than higher-income countries to afford a single 1GB mobile internet plan that is also 49 Megabits per second (Mbps) slower,” states the report. “The average mobile internet speed in lower-income countries is 26 Mbps to mean a user would struggle to have a video conferencing call (which requires at least 50 Mbps speed).” The 2022 DQL Index also reveals that lower-income countries work eight hours more than higher-income countries to afford a fixed broadband plan that is 83 Mbps slower on average. “Unfortunately, fixed broadband internet in lower-income countries is just slightly faster than mobile (34 Mbps), which is still not enough for a smooth video call,” shows the data of the report. Moreover, it discloses that the lowest-income countries experience the sharpest internet divide, given that in Mali and Ethiopia, people work 14 times more than the highest-income countries for mobile internet that is 68 mbps slower. “Broadband internet in these lowest-income countries,” continues the report. “Is just 19mbps on average (129 mbps slower than the highest-income countries), but it’s eight times less affordable.” Surfshark says it analysed the 2022 DQL index over the last four years and found that digital opportunities have proven to be more critical than ever. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic stresses how important it is for countries to ensure remote operational capacity to drive their economies forward. Inequality in e-infrastructure According to the 2022 DQL index, of the ten highest-ranking countries in e-infrastructure, 96 per cent of the population uses the internet while in the ten lowest-ranking countries, only 29 per cent do. “8.2 per cent of the global population lives in a country with 50 per cent internet penetration or less, whereas in Europe, almost 90 per cent of the population has access to the internet. The lowest internet penetration is found in Africa,” states the report. Meanwhile, a country’s GDP is not critical in developing e-infrastructure. According to the 2022 DQL index, more than 20 per cent of the examined countries have a lower-than-average GDP but higher-than-average e-infrastructure. Which countries rank the best? The 2022 DQL Index ranks Israel, Denmark, Germany, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Japan, United Kingdom and South Korea, as top 10 countries globally, respectively. Correspondingly, South Africa, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, and Senegal rank in the top 10 in Africa.