The fourth annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) reports that Zambia ranks 105th in the world regarding digital wellbeing. That is out of 117 countries, or 92% of the global population. Out of the five fundamental digital life pillars, Zambia’s worst score is for internet quality, ranking 116th globally. While the best is for e-security (64th). Zambia’s internet affordability comes 104th, as well as e-infrastructure, and e-government 114th. In the face of waging inflation, fixed broadband internet has become less affordable worldwide for the second year in a row, prying the global digital divide even further.
The DQL study is conducted by the cybersecurity company Surfshark. It evaluates countries based on five fundamental digital wellbeing pillars: internet quality, e-government, e-infrastructure, internet affordability, and e-security. This year, Zambia comes at the lower end of the index, ranking 105th not even making it into top 100 in the final index. Country ranks 15th in Africa. The country has dropped by 11 positions since last year’s edition, falling from 94th to 105th. Out of all index pillars, Zambia’s weakest spot is internet quality, which needs to improve by 400% to match the best-ranking country’s result (Chile’s).
Internet quality in Zambia is very weak, and on a global scale mobile internet is better than fixed
Zambia’s internet quality, considering internet speed, stability, and growth, ranks 116th in the world and is 68% worse than the global average. Regarding internet speed alone, Zambia’s mobile internet ranks higher than fixed broadband in the global ranking, operating at 18.6 Mbps/s (109th globally). Meanwhile, the fixed broadband internet comes 111st (14.6 Mbps/s).
Compared to Zimbabwe, Zambia’s mobile internet is 15% faster, while broadband is 15% slower. Since last year, mobile internet speed in Zambia has improved by 23.8% (3.6 Mbps), and fixed broadband speed has dropped by 13.3% (2.2 Mbps). In comparison, Singapore’s residents enjoyed mobile speeds up to 104 Mbps/s and fixed to as much as 261 Mbps/s – the fastest internet in the world this year.
Internet in Zambia is not affordable compared to global standards, there’s a lot of room for improvement
Zambia’s internet affordability ranks 104th in the world. Residents can buy 1GB of mobile internet in Zambia for 10 minutes 34 seconds of work per month, 6 times less than in Zimbabwe. However, compared to Israel, which has the most affordable mobile internet on the planet (5s per 1GB), Zambians work 129 times more. Its affordability decreased since the previous year, making people work 10 minutes 13 seconds more to afford the same mobile internet service.
Fixed broadband costs Zambian citizens around 11 hours 14 minutes of their working time each month. To afford it, Zambians have to work 35 times more than Israeli citizens, for whom the most affordable package costs only 19 min of work monthly. Since last year, broadband internet has become more affordable in Zambia, making people work 10 hours 7 minutes less to afford fixed broadband internet service.
The global digital divide is now deeper than ever
Globally, broadband is getting less affordable each year. Looking at countries included in last year’s index, people have to work six minutes more to afford broadband internet in 2022. In some countries, such as Ivory Coast and Uganda, people work an average of 2 weeks to earn the cheapest fixed broadband internet package. The same trend was observed last year. With the current inflation, the pressure on low-income households that need the internet has become even heavier. Surfshark’s study also found that countries with the poorest internet connection have to work for it the longest.
“While countries with a strong digital quality of life tend to be those of advanced economies, our global study found that money doesn’t always buy digital happiness,” – explains Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Head of PR at Surfshark. “That is why, for the fourth year in a row, we continue analyzing the Digital Quality of Life to see how different nations keep up with providing the basic digital necessities for their citizens. Most importantly, our research seeks to show the full picture of the global digital divide that millions of people are suffering from.”
The best and the worst countries to live in by the digital quality of life
Overall, 7 out of 10 highest-scoring countries are in Europe, which has been the case for the past three years. Israel ranks 1st in DQL 2022 pushing Denmark to the second place after its two-year lead. Germany ranks 3rd, and France and Sweden round up the top five of the 117 evaluated nations. Congo DR, Yemen, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cameroon are the bottom five countries.
Regionally, the US stands out in the Americas as a country with the highest digital quality of life, while Israel takes the leading position in Asia. Among African countries, people in South Africa enjoy the highest digital life quality. In Oceania, New Zealand takes the lead outperforming Australia in various digital areas this year.
The 2022 DQL research examined more than 7.2 billion people regarding five core pillars and 14 underpinning indicators that provide a comprehensive measure. The study is based on the United Nations open-source information, the World Bank, Freedom House, the International Communications Union, and other sources. This year’s study includes seven (6%) more countries than DQL 2021, most of which are African countries.
The final 2022 Digital Quality of Life report and an interactive country comparison tool can be found here: https://surfshark.com/dql2022