The global digital wellbeing study showed that South Africa dropped down by 9 places in the global ranking since last year. Photo: File
The global digital wellbeing study showed that South Africa dropped down by 9 places in the global ranking since last year. Photo: File

South Africa ranked 68th in the Digital Quality of life index 2021

By Given Majola Time of article published Sep 23, 2021

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SOUTH Africa ranked 68th in the world out of 110 countries and first place in Africa in the Digital Quality of Life Index 2021.

The global digital wellbeing study showed that South Africa dropped down by nine places in the global ranking since last year. It, however, surpassed Kenya and Morocco to claim the first spot in Africa.

The third annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) covered 90 percent of the global population. It was conducted by the cybersecurity company Surfshark and evaluated countries based on a set of five fundamental digital wellbeing pillars.

South Africa showed better results than the global average in internet affordability at 26th but ranked comparatively lower in internet quality at 57th, e-security at 85th, e-infrastructure at 87th and e-government at 57th.

The country showed excellent improvement in the internet affordability pillar. South Africa’s index grew by 32 percent compared to last year, and it was now approximately 30 percent better than the global average.

According to the index, people in South Africa had to work 1 hour 38 minutes to afford the cheapest broadband internet package and 59 seconds to afford the cheapest 1GB of mobile internet, which was three minutes less than last year. In comparison, people spent approximately 10 minutes of work to afford the 1GB of mobile internet globally.

The research found that South Africa showed mediocre results in e-security as it ranked 85th and was surpassed by Algeria, Kenya, and Nigeria. E-infrastructure in South Africa was also around 20 percent worse than the global average, ranked 87th globally.

VPN service company Surfshark chief executive Vytautas Kaziukonis said that digital opportunities had proved to be more important than ever during the Covid-19 crisis, stressing the importance for every country to ensure fully remote operational capacities for their economies.

“That is why, for the third year in a row, we continue the Digital Quality of Life research, which provides a robust global outlook into how countries excel digitally. The index sets the basis for meaningful discussions about how digital advancement impacts a country’s prosperity and where improvements can be made,” said Kaziukonis.

In the overall picture, 6 out of 10 countries holding the highest scores were located in Europe, following last year’s trend. Denmark ranked first in DQL for the second year in a row, closely followed by South Korea. Finland ranked third, while Israel and the US rounded out the top five of 110 nations that were evaluated. The bottom five countries were Ethiopia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Guatemala, and Angola.

Regionally, the US stood out as a country with the highest digital quality of life in the Americas, while South Korea led the Asia poll. Among countries in Africa, people in South Africa enjoyed the highest quality of their digital lives, whereas Australia leads in Oceania, outperforming New Zealand in various digital areas.

Other significant findings of the report include that broadband was globally less affordable this year. Comparing countries included in both DQL20 and DQL21, people had to work 11 percent more (25 minutes more) to afford broadband internet this year. However, people had to work 29 percent less (28 minutes less) to afford mobile internet this year.

The world’s worst internet was shown to be the least affordable as people in some countries, such as Nigeria, Côte D'Ivoire and Mali required approximately a week’s worth of work to afford the internet.

Investing in electronic infrastructure and electronic government were said to have contributed to people’s digital wellbeing the most.

The 2021 DQL research examined a total population of more than 6.9 billion people in terms of five core pillars and 14 underpinning indicators that provide a comprehensive measure.

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

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