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South Africa Ranks 68th in the World in Digital Quality of Life Index 2021

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The global digital wellbeing study shows that South Africa dropped down by 9 places since last year but still comes 1st place in Africa, surpassing Kenya and Morocco.


The third annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) ranks South Africa 68th among 110 countries. Covering 90% of the global population, the DQL study is conducted by the cybersecurity company Surfshark and evaluates countries based on a set of five fundamental digital wellbeing pillars. South Africa shows better results than the global average in internet affordability (26th) but ranks comparatively lower in internet quality (57th), e-security (85th), e-infrastructure (87th), and e-government (57th).


The country shows excellent improvement in the internet affordability pillar. South Africa’s index grew by 32% compared to last year, and it is now approximately 30% better than the global average.
People in South Africa have 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 is 3 minutes less than in 2020. In comparison, people spend approximately 10 minutes of work to afford the 1GB of mobile internet globally.


The research found that South Africa shows mediocre results in e-security. The country ranks 85th, and is surpassed by Algeria, Kenya, and Nigeria. E-infrastructure in South Africa is also around 20% worse than the global average, ranking 87th globally.
“Digital opportunities have 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,” – explains Vytautas Kaziukonis, CEO of Surfshark. “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.”
In an all-around picture, 6 out of 10 countries holding the highest scores are located in Europe, following last year’s trend. Denmark ranks 1st in DQL for the second year in a row and is closely

followed by South Korea. Finland ranks 3rd, while Israel and the U.S. round out the top five of 110 nations that were evaluated. The bottom 5 countries are Ethiopia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Guatemala, and Angola.


Regionally, the U.S. stands out as a country with the highest digital quality of life in the Americas, while South Korea takes the leading position in Asia. Among countries in Africa, people in South Africa enjoy 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:
● Broadband is globally less affordable this year. Comparing countries included in both DQL20 and DQL21, people have to work 11% more (25 min more) to afford broadband internet in 2021. However, people have to work 29% less (28 min less) to afford mobile internet this year.


● The world’s worst internet is the least affordable. People in some countries, such as Nigeria, Côte D’Ivoire and Mali require approximately a week’s worth of work to afford the internet.
● Investing in electronic infrastructure and electronic government contributes 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.


The final 2021 Digital Quality of Life report and an interactive country comparison tool can be found here: https://www.surfshark.com/dql2021.

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