Madagascar has faster internet than UK, France and Canada

Boys fish along the banks of the Ikopa river in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo
Boys fish along the banks of the Ikopa river in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo
Image: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
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Madagascar, one of world’s poorest countries, has the fastest broadband internet speed in Africa and has average speeds much faster than some of the world’s wealthiest nations, according to a broadband speed league table from UK analytics firm Cable, which collects data from 200 countries. 

At 24.9 megabits per second, Madagascar’s broadband speed is more than twice the global average. Not only does this mean the African island nation has the fastest internet speed on the continent, but it places 22nd in the world, out-pacing Canada, France, and the UK. 

The broadband speed in Madagascar is due to the 10,000km-long East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy).  An undersea fiber optic cable that stretches from Sudan to South Africa. In 2014, the country’s largest internet provider Telecom Malagasy signed an agreement with the international operating division of Hong Kong Telecom to make this happen.

But despite what seems a technological advantage, Madagascar’s high speed internet barely serves its population. Just 13% of its 25 million population has access to electricity and only 2.1% of the population has access to the internet. There are only 2.75 IP addresses per 1,000 people compared to a global average of 558 per person.

Madagascar is the world’s only non-conflict country that has become poorer since it gained independence in 1960, according to the World Bank . The former French colony has an extreme poverty rate where almost 80% of the population live on less than $1.90 per day. Data shows that one in two Malagasy children is stunted because of malnutrition. Its gross national income income per capita dropped to $400 last year and compares with a Sub Saharan Africa average of $1454.

And despite its speed, internet connectivity isn’t always stable in Madagascar. In February 2017 the EASSy cable broke down. Complete cable repairs took much longer than expected, a total of 15 days. In the meantime clients were compromised and it caused significant disruption to the economy. 

Madagascar is not the only country that is connected to the East African Submarine Cable System. The fiber optic cable is to be linked to countries running from South Africa to Sudan.