Does Kenya Have Faster Internet Than Australia?

Kenya may be the most connected country in East Africa, but does it have a higher average speed than Australia?

A Bloomberg news story citing the latest Akamai State of Internet report has stated that Kenya’s average internet speed is higher than that of Australia, a country with a per capita income 34 times its size.

The report puts Kenya at number 43 globally with an average speed of 12.2 Mbps, with Australia coming in at 50th on the list with 11.1 Mbps.

Credit: Bloomberg

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismissed the comparison as “complete rubbish”, stating that far fewer people connected to the internet in Kenya, which skewed the averages.

To understand the backstory, Australia invested $38 Billion in a National Broadband Network (NBN) infrastructure that was meant to “spearhead a digital revolution.” The situation on the ground is that the project has been mismanaged by the government leading to costs overrun and construction delays.

“One-and-a-half percent of people in Kenya have access to broadband”, Prime Minister Turnbull stated further. “In Australia, it’s 90%. You might have a handful of wealthy people with apartment buildings that have got first world telecoms in a country where the vast majority of people have got no access at all.”

According to the Prime Minister, Kenya has far fewer people connected to fixed broadband internet, and those connected can afford fast connections, thus this worked in favour of the country getting a higher average than Australia.

Peter Ryan, Australia NBN Chief Network Engineering Officer, went on to state that the only places likely to have the internet speeds stated in the report are those with high-speed fibre access.

“The [Akamai] numbers”, he notes, “reflect the tiny number of fixed-broadband circuits coming out of Kenya with average speeds of 12.2Mbps — and that’s the number that gets reported. 98 percent of premises, almost 9 million Kenyan homes that don’t have a fixed-broadband connection, simply don’t count.”

So how true is the claim by Akamai that Kenya has faster internet than Australia on average?

PesaCheck investigated the claim that Kenya enjoys faster internet speeds than Australia and found that the claim is TRUE for the following reasons:

First, Akamai’s statistics looked at the average speeds of broadband internet connections as stated in the report. The data was gathered from across the Akamai Intelligent Platform during the first quarter of 2017, covering Internet connection speeds and broadband adoption metrics across both fixed and mobile networks, as well as trends seen in this data over time.

The report also states that mobile network data had been removed from the dataset used to calculate the metrics in the present section, as well as in subsequent regional “Geography” sections.” There is no explicit mention of “fixed broadband” as Peter Ryan stated in his statement.

Secondly, Australia is ranked second worldwide as having the highest internet penetration with 89.8% of the population connected to the internet, which translates to 19,554,832 internet users. In Kenya, internet penetration stands at 64.8% which translates to 29,624,474 internet users.

Third, Kenya has 15.4 million broadband internet connections, including mobile broadband, compared to Australia’s 13.7 million broadband connections. Australia has a higher average mobile connection speed at 15.7 Mbps compared to Kenya’s 13.7 Mbps thanks to wider 4G coverage.

A look at Akamai’s figure for internet speeds shows that Australia has a peak speed of 55.7 Mbps, while Kenya’s is 38.5 Mbps. However, the average connection speed, which is what you are likely to get as the end-user, is at 12.2 Mbps for Kenya and 11.1 Mbps for Australia, meaning that you are likely to experience a faster connection in Kenya than in Australia. The actual speed you get depends on your service provider, though.

So yes, Australia might have a higher internet penetration and GDP per capita than Kenya, but Akamai’s claim that Kenya has faster internet is TRUE.

Do you want us to fact-check something a politician or other public figure has said about public finances? Write to us on any of the contacts below, and we’ll help ensure you’re not getting bamboozled.


This report was written by Saruni Maina, a staff reporter at the Kenyan online technology magazine TechWeez, which first published a version of this analysis. PesaCheck has republished an updated and expanded version of the fact-check, with permission from TechWeez.

PesaCheck, co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arenstein, is East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of public services related to the Sustainable Development Goals, such as healthcare, rural development, and access to water and sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org

Follow Us
Like Us
Email Us

PesaCheck is a joint initiative of Code for Africa, through its local Code for Kenya chapter, and the International Budget Partnership (Kenya), in partnership with a coalition of local media organisations, with additional support from the International Center for Journalists(ICFJ).

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.