There are three things that I find challenging whenever I go back home to Tanzania: cold showers, having to wash clothes myself (instead of using laundry machines), and slow Internet. Slow Internet is especially annoying. In an Internet cafe, opening your Gmail account takes a devastatingly long time.

Statistics featured on Ookla’s NetIndex show that Rwanda has the fastest Internet speed in Africa – faster than Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. Currently, Rwanda has an average download speed of up to 7.28 Mbps, which is more than double the 3.28 Mbps speed it had just six months ago.

Rwanda relies on three submarine fibre optic cable systems for Internet connection such as the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSY), and The East African Marine Systems.

The statistics also show that Ghana has moved down three places from top of the list to fourth, with Libya (5.12 Mbps) and Ethiopia (4.82 Mbps) taking up the second and third spot, respectively. Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said although the result was good news for the country, a lot more work still needs to be done.

“This shows that our efforts are paying off although we still need to do more in the area of affordability of broadband. Rwanda’s performance in broadband speed is a result of deliberate efforts of the government that invested in fibre optic rollout and purchase of capacity,” said Nsengimana.

According to The New Times, other African countries with the fastest broadband speeds include Kenya with 4.34 Mbps, currently ranked 5th in Africa, dropping from 2nd position six months ago; Morocco with 3.51 Mbps, ranked 8th in Africa; and South Africa with 3.31 Mbps, ranked 10th in Africa and 118th in the world.

On another note, Nigeria ranks 13th in Africa and 138th in the world with broadband download speeds of 2.73 Mbps yet remains the second West African country with the fastest broadband speed after Ghana.

Internet connection plays a crucial role in economic development of any country. Faster Internet lowers operational costs for some businesses, saves time, and is sometimes a criterion used by investors in making investment decisions. The world’s average Internet speed is about 2.3 Mbps and most African countries are well below the average. This continues to be a challenge even for countries like Rwanda – as Nsengimana said, more work, still, has to be done.

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