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Internet (World) Stats Can Be Slightly Misleading

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App Africa carried a link yesterday to what it described as Africa’s Top 10 Internet Countries.I clicked through, and the first thing I saw was that Nigeria was top of the list. And Kenya was rated sixth. Awesome!

But think about it for a minute: if Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, surely it’s logical that it will also have the greatest number of internet users? That doesn’t really tell us anything about how widespred internet use actually is across the continent.

Scrolling down the page, I found the data used, and that was more interesting. Internet penetration – the percentage of the population using the internet – was much more varied. Some copy and paste and a simple spreadsheet [PDF] later, the new rankings looked different.

I divided the number of internet users by the thousand people, to get the figure for the number of internet users per 1000 people in the population. This gives a new ranking for the Top Ten:

  1. Seychelles – 38.91
  2. Mauritius – 26.68
  3. Morocco – 21.26
  4. Tunisia – 17
  5. South Africa – 11.65
  6. Sao Tome & Principe – 11.16
  7. Zimbabwe – 10.91
  8. Egypt – 10.55
  9. Algeria – 10.36
  10. Cape Verde – 8.67

Kenya comes in just outside the Top Ten at eleventh, with Nigeria one place behind at twelfth. Yes, they’ve slipped a couple of places, but only because the picture is more accurate. For every thousand people in each country’s population, nearly five times as many people in the Seychelles access the internet than they do in Kenya.

This suggests that there still isn’t enough easy access to the internet in Kenya as in other countries, and this is something that the government is going to have to address if we really are going to be a technology hub for the continent. If Zimbabwe, where the economy is on its knees, still has better interent penetration than we do, we’re simply not trying hard enough.

[Image by VaXzine]


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