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shutterstock_36296881Africa lags far behind most continents in the world regarding internet speeds, says a report from website monitoring firm Pingdom.

The Pingdom study – which has been compiled using data from from the quarterly ‘State of the Internet report’ by Akamai – says Europe ranks first in the world with an average internet peak connection speed of 23 Mbps, while Africa ranks bottom of the continent list with an average speed of 9 Mbps.

Each quarter, Akamai releases a report that includes data gathered across its global server network about attack traffic, average an maximum connection speeds, internet penetration and broadband adoption, and mobile usage.

“For Africa, the situation is a bit tricky…because in the data there are few countries,” Magnus Nystedt, a writer and blogger at Pingdom, tells ITWeb Africa.

“But yes, Africa has both slower average and median (internet peak connection speeds) than Asia,” he adds.

The report highlights that Asia has the largest distribution of internet speeds in the world. Iran, for example, ranks lowest in Asia with an average internet speed of 2.9 Mbps while Hong Kong ranks number one in the world with an average speeds of 54.1 Mbps.

Anomalies in the Akamai data, though, do appear. For example, looking at the Pingdom graphs, all continents jumped in internet speeds in the first quarter of 2009, resulting in Africa surpassing Latin America for a brief period.

Nevertheless, the managing director of research firm World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, tells ITWeb Africa that the Pingdom Akamai data does appear to be a fair reflection, and is “more reliable than aggregated speed tests that tend to be generated largely by those who have faster connections.”

Regarding Africa’s poor showing on the list, Goldstuck says, “Most of Africa is underserviced from a broadband point of view.”

Mobile operators on the continent, such as MTN, are rolling out more 3G and even LTE services in Africa. But Goldstuck says more needs to be done.

“It is one thing to announce a 3G or LTE service; it is another to roll it out broadly enough and to provision it strongly enough for it to make a big difference to average speeds. South Africa has LTE, but its limited roll-out so far and poor speeds outside of the core transmission areas means that it has had no impact on improving average broadband speeds,” says Goldstuck.

Credit: ITWebAfrica