Internet Speeds in North Africa are Rapidly Improving, but Still Lag Behind Much of the World
2020 was a difficult year for almost every nation in the world due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On the bright side, Speedtest Intelligence® reveals that every North African nation improved their mobile and fixed broadband speeds from Q2 2020 to Q1 2021, despite huge setbacks in the global economy.
This article explores the state of internet performance in the North African countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia from Q2 2020 through Q1 2021. We further examine which mobile and fixed broadband providers in those countries had the best speeds, consistency and 4G Availability during Q1 2021. Finally, we investigate internet performance and coverage in the largest metropolitan areas, and look at cell signal strength using data from Ookla Cell Analytics™.
Morocco has the fastest mobile download speeds in North Africa, Egypt is fastest for fixed broadband
Analysis based on data from Speedtest Intelligence shows internet speeds varied widely across North Africa during Q1 2021, with every country except Egypt experiencing faster median mobile download speeds than fixed broadband speeds. Internet speeds over the past year — Q2 2020 to Q1 2021 — increased for both mobile and fixed broadband in every country in North Africa.
North Africa isn’t isolated in this improvement: earlier this year, Ookla® partnered with the World Bank to analyze internet performance in 18 African countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study showed that overall internet speeds slowed during lockdowns.
Mobile speeds increased across most of North Africa
Morocco had the fastest median mobile download speed (25.53 Mbps). Tunisia was second (21.28 Mbps), Egypt third (14.95 Mbps), Libya fourth (11.65 Mbps) and Algeria fifth (9.76 Mbps).
Many North Africans have become mobile-first internet users as 3G and 4G performance and coverage continue to improve. From Q2 2020 to Q1 2021, every North African country (except Egypt) saw large increases in median mobile download speeds, with Libya showing the largest percentage increase (67.4%) followed by Algeria (65.1%), Morocco (10.7%), Tunisia (10.0%) and Egypt (0.1%).
Egypt showed the fastest broadband speeds
While Egypt trails in mobile internet speeds, it excels for fixed broadband speeds. During Q1 2021, Egypt had the fastest median download speed over fixed broadband in North Africa at 26.58Mbps (4.82 Mbps upload). Morocco was second for download (10.01 Mbps), Libya was third (8.71 Mbps), Tunisia was fourth (6.95 Mbps) and Algeria fifth (4.09 Mbps).
Every country in North Africa, with the exception of Tunisia, saw its median fixed broadband speeds improve more than 25% from Q2 2020 to Q1 2021, with Algeria more than doubling its median fixed broadband download speed at 105.5%. Egypt was second most improved at 94.6%, Libya was third (59.8%), Morocco was fourth (28.5%) and Tunisia was fifth at 12.3%.
Performance by provider varied widely by country
During Q1 2021, North African mobile operators showed a wide range of performance across the region. Morocco’s Maroc Telecom had the fastest median mobile download and upload speeds in North Africa during Q1 2021 at 40.32 Mbps and 12.60 Mbps, respectively. Egypt’s WE Internet had the fastest median download speed over fixed broadband at 30.60 Mbps while Libya’s LTC had the fastest median upload speed at 7.46 Mbps.
Morocco had the best 4G Availability in North Africa during Q1 2021 with all three of its top providers leading the region, including: inwi (78.6%), Maroc Telecom (78.0%) and Orange (77.4%). Outside of Morocco, Tunisia’s Ooredoo had the next best 4G Availability at 76.9%.
Mobile consistency varied widely across North Africa during Q1 2021, with Morocco’s Maroc Telecom showing the best consistency at 89.1%. Tunisia’s Tunisie Telecom had the next best consistency at 86.7%.
Fastest mobile operator in North African countries often showed highest consistency
Here’s how mobile in each North African country fared during Q1 2021:
Ooredoo had the fastest median mobile speeds in Algeria during Q1 2021 (14.37 Mbps download // 8.78 Mbps upload). DJEZZY ranked second (8.15 Mbps download // 7.68 Mbps upload) and Mobilis was third (6.46 Mbps download // 6.03 Mbps upload). Ooredoo had the highest mobile Consistency Score™ (73.5%) followed by DJEZZY in second (55.9%) and Mobilis in third (51.9%). DJEZZY had the best 4G Availability at 69.7%, followed by Ooredoo in second (65.8%) and Mobilis in third (54.5%).
During Q1 2021, Orange had the fastest median download and upload speeds over mobile in Egypt at 17.43 Mbps and 8.04 Mbps, respectively. Coming in second fastest, We had a median download speed at 15.56 Mbps (6.95 Mbps upload). Etisalat was third (15.20 Mbps download // 7.28 Mbps upload). Vodafone ranked last among top providers (13.11 Mbps download and 4.67 Mbps upload).
There was no clear statistical winner for mobile consistency in Egypt during Q1 2021: Orange had a Consistency Score of 77.8% and We had 77.7%. Etisalat ranked third at 74.7% while Vodafone came in last at 69.5%. There was also no statistical winner for 4G Availability, though Etisalat achieved 68.3%, Vodafone 67.7% and We 67.4%. Orange showed the lowest 4G Availability at 61.1%.
During Q1 2021, Libyana had the fastest median download and upload speeds over mobile in Libya at 13.49 Mbps and 7.03 Mbps, respectively, as well as the best mobile consistency with a Consistency Score of 67.8%. Almadar Aljadid came in second for speeds (10.71 Mbps download // 3.62 Mbps upload) and mobile consistency (63.8%). Almadar Aljadid had the best 4G Availability at 37.3% while Libyana showed 30.5%.
During Q1 2021, Maroc Telecom had the fastest median mobile download and upload speeds in Morocco, attaining 40.32 Mbps and 12.60 Mbps, respectively. inwi was second (19.00 Mbps download // 7.90 Mbps upload) and Orange was third (15.84 Mbps download // 6.17 Mbps upload).
Maroc Telecom also had the best mobile consistency with a Consistency Score of 89.1%, followed by inwi (74.8%) and Orange (71.0%). There was no statistical winner for best 4G Availability, though inwi achieved 78.6%, Maroc Telecom achieved 78.0% and Orange achieved 77.4% — all of which were some of the best 4G Availability scores in North Africa.
Tunisie Telecom has the fastest median mobile download and upload speeds in Tunisia during Q1 2021 at 24.34 Mbps and 11.42 Mbps, respectively. Ooredoo was second with 22.50 Mbps download and 10.26 Mbps upload. Orange was third with 16.24 Mbps download and 8.25 Mbps upload.
Tunisie Telecom also had the best mobile consistency with a Consistency Score of 86.7%. Ooredoo was second at 83.3% and Orange was third at 78.1%. Ooredoo had the best 4G Availability at 76.9%, while Tunisie Telecom and Orange trailed at 72.4% and 72.3%, respectively.
Fixed broadband in North Africa is slow, but Egyptian providers have the fastest speeds
During Q1 2021, WE Internet led Egypt and North Africa with the fastest median fixed broadband download speed at 30.60 Mbps (5.68 Mbps upload), and the highest Consistency Score (57.5%). Vodafone was second for speeds (13.16 Mbps download // 1.65 Mbps upload), Orange was third (10.97 Mbps download // 0.82 Mbps upload) and Etisalat was fourth among top providers at 6.70 Mbps download and 0.81 Mbps upload.
LTC had the fastest median download and upload speeds over fixed broadband in Libya during Q1 2021 at 10.62 Mbps and 7.46 Mbps. LTC also had the highest fixed broadband Consistency Score at 22.3%. Libya Telecom followed at 8.31 Mbps download, 4.02 Mbps upload and a Consistency Score of 18.0%.
Orange had the fastest median download speed over fixed broadband in Morocco during Q1 2021 at 12.65 Mbps (2.60 Mbps upload), while inwi had the best median upload speed at 4.18 Mbps (11.33 Mbps download). Maroc Telecom was third for fixed broadband speeds at 9.63 Mbps download and 0.81 Mbps upload. Maroc Telecom had the highest Consistency Score at 29.9%. Orange was second for consistency at 24.7% and inwi was third at 16.9%.
Tunisie Telecom had the fastest median download speed over fixed broadband in Tunisia during Q1 2021 at 8.02 Mbps (0.81 Mbps upload), while Ooredoo had the fastest median upload at 3.91 Mbps (7.03 Mbps download). TOPNET attained 7.12 Mbps download and 0.78 Mbps upload, followed by Orange (6.73 Mbps download // 0.94 Mbps upload) and Gnet (6.59 Mbps download // 0.77 Mbps upload).
There was no clear statistical winner for fixed broadband consistency, with Tunisie Telecom showing a Consistency Score of 10.6% and Ooredoo 10.1%. Orange was third at 4.6%, followed by Gnet (3.7%) and TOPNET (3.4%).
Tunis and Grand Casablanca had the fastest median mobile download speeds in North Africa, Alexandria Governorate had the fastest median fixed broadband speed
According to Speedtest Intelligence, Tunis, Tunisia and Grand Casablanca, Morocco had the fastest median mobile download speeds among North Africa’s most populous metropolitan areas during Q1 2021 at 22.65 Mbps and 22.44 Mbps, respectively. Alexandria Governorate, Egypt was third at 16.63 Mbps, followed by Cairo Governorate, Egypt (14.32 Mbps), Tripoli, Libya (13.71 Mbps) and Algiers, Algeria (12.81 Mbps).
Alexandria Governorate had the fastest median download speed over fixed broadband at 21.24 Mbps. Cairo Governorate was second at 20.71 Mbps, Grand Casablanca third (10.70 Mbps), Tripoli fourth (10.02 Mbps), Tunis fifth (7.47 Mbps) and Algiers sixth (4.60 Mbps).
Cell Analytics paints a fascinating picture of North Africa cities
Ookla’s Cell Analytics™, is an invaluable tool to identify intelligence about wireless service quality, RF measurements (signal strength), data usage, user density (indoors and outdoors) and cell site locations for a given area. Cell Analytics can help mobile network operators improve their network and identify areas that need improvement with granular precision.
The maps below use Cell Analytics data from Q4 2020 to Q1 2021 to identify two items of interest in major North African cities: best provider for indoor and outdoor 4G LTE RSRP signal strength in a given area, and provider-level 4G LTE RSRP signal strength around key areas of interest. For indoor and outdoor 4G LTE RSRP maps, Cell Analytics identifies the best mobile network provider for a given area or building by color if there is a statistically significant winner. Provider-level maps show the performance of individual providers for a given area, with pink and red colors showing a strong signal and blue colors indicating a weak signal.
Scroll down for Cell Analytics maps of major North African cities or click on a city below:
The Library of Alexandria has been lost to time but Bibliotheca Alexandrina stands as a testament to what the world has lost and as a major cultural center for Egypt. In the bustling metropolis, the 4G LTE RSRP maps below paint two different stories: the best mobile outdoor network signal strength and the best indoor network signal strength in Alexandria during Q4 2020 to Q1 2021. It’s clear that different providers provide the strongest cell signal in different parts of the city and that some buildings are better served than others.
While it’s good to know where the best provider is in the places you frequent, Ookla Cell Analytics can also map 4G LTE RSRP (signal strength) results from each provider, shown below. The red areas show strong signals, while the blue areas show weak signals.
Algiers’ Botanical Garden Hamma is a vibrant green space in a thriving city. It’s also a good geographic point to test mobile performance. The first two maps below show the best network providers for outdoor (left) and indoor (right) 4G LTE RSRP signal strength in the area.
The next three maps show individual providers’ 4G LTE RSRP signal strength, with red being the strongest signals and blue being the weakest signals.
Located in the heart of Cairo, the Gezira Sporting Club offers an island view of the bustling city. The following maps show the best network providers for outdoor (left) and indoor (right) 4G LTE RSRP signal strength in the area:
Across the river just to the east of Gezira Sporting Club lies the world famous Egyptian Museum. With mobile service at a premium in the busy area, Cell Analytics shows the 4G LTE RSRP signal strength for top providers. The following maps show red areas where the signal is strongest to blue areas where the signal is weakest.
The Hassan II Mosque located near Casablanca’s northern coast is a major tourist hub, which makes it a prime location for strong mobile performance. The two maps below show the best 4G LTE RSRP signal strengths by top providers for outdoor and indoor areas:
The next series of maps visualizes each top provider’s 4G LTE RSRP signal strengths in the area slightly southeast of the maps above. The signal is strongest in areas colored red and weakest areas in the blue areas.
Tripoli’s northern coastline is an important cultural treasure. The maps below show Tripoli’s best 4G LTE RSRP providers for indoor and outdoor signal strength:
The Saraya Museum, also known as the Red Castle Museum, is one of Tripoli’s most prized attractions. The following maps show areas in red where the signal is strongest and areas in blue where the signal is weakest for Tripoli’s top providers:
Tunis Centre is the heart of Tunis’ thriving culture. The maps below show the best providers for outdoor and indoor 4G LTE RSRP signal strength in the area.
Zooming in further, we are able to see top providers’ individual 4G LTE RSRP signal strengths in a given area. Red areas show where the signal is strongest, while blue areas show the weakest signal for a given provider:
North Africa internet performance is rapidly improving, and 5G is just around the corner
Internet performance in North Africa is rapidly improving, and with further operator and government investments in 4G and 5G networks — as well as expanded fixed broadband access — North Africa has a bright outlook for its internet users. We’ll continue monitoring the data from Speedtest Intelligence and Cell Analytics to see how internet performance changes during the year to come. If you’re in North Africa and want to see how your internet compares, take a Speedtest® on Android or iOS.