International Political Economy and Development

Internet Users in Africa

Posted in Economic Growth, ICTs for Development by DS on May 20, 2009

Africa is lagging behind far more than any other continent on Internet usage. There are so many reasons for the low number of Internet users such as poor infrastructure, low economic growth, low incomes and of course other priorities which deserve more priority than the Internet. While we are spoiled with the high speeds of Internet in the developed countries (I have been watching all my favorite TV channels online), it is still luxury to send an e-mail in Africa even in the companies and international organizations. I was in Ethiopia in February 2009 and noticed from first hand how even my colleagues at the UN ECA (UN Economic Commission for Africa) suffer with the Internet connection.

Let’s start rolling the ball and look at the number of total Internet users in Top 10 countries in Africa:


Egypt with a population of around 82 million and 10.5 million Internet users tops the list (12.4% of the population uses Internet). Nigeria follows Egypt with 10 million Internet users. However, the percentage is nearly half of Egypt in Nigeria, with population of 146 million, roughly 6.8% of the population uses Internet in Nigeria. On the other hand,19.2% and 27% of the population uses Internet in Morocco and Tunisia respectively. These are one of the highest percentages if we do not take into account some of the small states such as Seychelles and Mauritius. For the complete list of figures, you can check

When we compare the total number of Internet users in Africa to the rest of the world, we see that how little the usage is in this continent:



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