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Rwanda has fastest broadband speeds in sub-Saharan Africa, survey shows

Projects funded by World Bank helped boost bandwidth rates

Rwanda, little noticed by the outside world until genocide tore the country apart 18 years ago, has become the country with the fastest broadband Internet in sub-Saharan Africa, overtaking Ghana, according to test service provider Ookla.

The latest broadband speed results from Ookla's NetIndex show that service providers in Rwanda currently offer download speeds of up to 7.28M bps, up from 3.28M bps six months ago. Those speeds overtake those offered in all other sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria, Africa's largest telecom market.

However, President Paul Kagame and the minister of Youth and ICT said that despite the ranking, there is a lot more that Rwanda needs to do. Kagame believes Rwanda still has a long way to go to improve the country's broadband services for the benefit of the poor and those in remote rural areas.

Kagame two years ago was chosen to co-chair the Broadband Commission set up by the U.N. to speed up broadband rollout around the world.

"Rwanda is a country to be imitated by other African countries in terms of developing their telecom sectors. The country is slowly being transformed into the knowledge economy while other countries watch," said Mwape Mutale, CEO of the Center for ICT Development.

Ghana, which in March ranked top with the fastest broadband speed in Africa, has now dropped to the fourth position in the ranking, with broadband download speeds up 4.42M bps, down from 5.14M bps.

The improvement in Rwanda's broadband speed is a result of World Bank-funded broadband projects that connected the country to many international undersea cables, including Seacom and the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSY).

The bank has provided more than $30 million to Rwanda alone for the provision of broadband connectivity. The bank wants Rwanda, as they do other countries in the region, to increase the deployment of e-governance services.

Other African countries with relatively fast broadband speeds include Kenya, with 3.34M ; it is currently ranked fifth in Africa after dropping from second position six months ago.

South Africa, Africa's second largest telecom market after Nigeria, is ranked 10th in Africa with 3.31M bps speeds.

Nigeria ranks 13th in Africa with broadband download speeds of 2.73M bps and remain the second West African country after Ghana with the fastest broadband speed.

Ookla is a global leader in broadband testing and Web-based network diagnostic application. Based on millions of recent test results from Speedtest.net, the NetIndex compare and ranks consumer download speeds around the world.

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