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Web Index measures impact of Internet in 18 African nations

September 6, 2012  »  Statistics2 Comments

The World Wide Web Foundation has produced the world’s first “multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility, and impact on people and nations.” The 2012 ‘Web Index‘ covers 61 nations – 18 of which are African.

It comes as no surprise that Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt, Mauritius, and Kenya receive the highest African scores. On a continental level, political impact of the Internet is the strongest of seven indicators, followed by social impact. Web use and prevalence of local Web content need the most improvement.

Some of the category scores, however, are more surprising. Egypt and Tunisia score highly on political mobilization following recent engagement. Kenya scores well on the economic front, but most nations lack confidence in e-commerce. Interestingly, the Web Index found African nations to have a lower adoption of social networking than other surveyed regions. Communications infrastructure and local content availability are very weak on a global scale, but Kenya and Ghana received extremely high marks for their government open data initiatives. Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mali, and Burkina Faso scored poorly on most indicators.

The authors have provided a wealth of visualizations, data, PDFs, and summaries. We’ve done our best to summarize the entire dataset as it applies to Africa.


Web Index 2012. {World Wide Web Foundation}


Issues Covered:

  • Web Readiness: communications infrastructure, ICT policy & educational level
  • Web Use: percentage of individuals who use the Internet, local content available
  • Impact of the Web: strength of social networks, level of business Internet use, e-participation in politics


  • Researchers gathered 85 data points (indicators) from 11 sources (ie. Freedom House, ITU, UN, WEF, World Bank) for the period 2007-2011
  • A 10-step process was then used to deal with missing data, normalize the dataset, cluster certain variables, compute 7 category component scores, and finally, compute the overall composite score
  • 3 sub-indices were given different weights (1/5 Readiness, 1/5 Use, 3/5 Impact) to determine the overall ‘Web Index’

General African Rankings:

  • Tunisia leads the continent in 30th out of 61 nations. The North African nation received relatively high marks in communications infrastructure and social engagement
  • South Africa is in 36th position, buoyed by a high level of social use. The nation scored much lower in the political category
  • Egypt follows in 39th place with a strong level of political participation
  • Mauritius is found in the 41st spot thanks to relatively strong communications infrastructure and general Web readiness
  • Rounding out the top 5 African nations is Kenya, in 42nd place. According to the results, Kenya has the strongest online business development in Africa
  • Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso are the two lowest ranking countries
  • Seven of the ten lowest ranking countries in the overall index are African

(global rank in parenthesis)


Economic Impact:

  • Overall: Kenya (26), Tunisia (29)
  • Business Development: Kenya (19), Senegal (23)
  • Criminal Activity: (low scores are good) Zimbabwe (1), Ethiopia (2), Namibia (60), Nigeria (61)
  • Trust in the Web for Commerce: Mauritius (30), South Africa (33), all others 43rd and higher
  • Web use for Agriculture: South Africa (19), all others 40th or higher, Morocco (59), Senegal (60), Ethiopia (61)

Political Impact:

  • Overall: Egypt (19), Tunisia (27)
  • E-participation: Egypt (14), Tunisia (24), Ethiopia (27). Essentially no participation in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mali, Morocco, Cameroon
  • Government efficiency: Tunisia (18), Senegal (20). Zimbabwe (60)
  • Web Use for Political Mobilization: Egypt (1), Tunisia (16), Nigeria (28)
  • Web-based Political Campaigning: Egypt (19), Tanzania (29), South Africa (33)

Social Impact:

  • Overall: Tunisia (24), South Africa (29). Mali (59), Zimbabwe (60)
  • Social networking: Mauritius (31), Tunisia (36), Kenya (38). Benin (59), Zimbabwe, Benin, Mali, Ethiopia at bottom
  • Teacher Training via the Web: South Africa (6), Egypt (8)
  • Web Use for Public Health: Tunisia (9), South Africa (12). Mali, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia at bottom


Communications Infrastructure:

  • Mauritius (25), Tunisia (31), Egypt (33), South Africa (35)
  • Accessibility of Digital Content: Senegal (28)
  • Affordability of Access: Only Egypt and Tunisia are in the upper half
  • Fixed Broadband Subscriptions per 100: Only Mauritius is in the upper half
  • Percentage of Households With Computer: Only Morocco is in the upper half

Institutional Infrastructure:

  • Overall: Mauritius (27), South Africa (31). Zimbabwe (60)
  • % of Women ICT Graduates: Senegal (4)
  • Extent of Open Government Data Initiative: Kenya (4). Ghana (19)
  • Government Encouragement of Web Use: Morocco, Burkina Faso at bottom
  • Government ICT Training: Tunisia (9), Mauritius (23)
  • Government Website Censorship: Namibia (6), Ghana (10). Ethiopia in last place
  • Internet Access in Schools: Tunisia (26), Senegal (32).  Burkina Faso (60)
  • Laws Against Cyber Crime: Mauritius (14), Senegal (28), South Africa (29). Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Namibia at bottom

The Web

Web Content:

  • Overall: Only Tunisia in the upper half
  • Political Party Websites: Nearly non-existent in Benin
  • Crime Data on the Web: Uganda (14)
  • Women’s Groups Websites: Uganda (15), Nigeria (18)

Web Use:

  • Overall: No African nations in the upper half
  • % of Individuals Using the Internet: Morocco in 24th place with 54%. Ethiopia in 61st place with 1.1%
  • Use by Those with a Learning Disability: Ghana (24)

Additional Notes:

  • Average cost of fixed broadband monthly subscription as a % of GDP per capita decreased from 553.5 in 2008 to 125.5 in 2011
  • % of population using the Web grew from an average of 5.5% in 2008 to 11.8% in 2011
  • Future reports will include data from more countries and will allow for trends over time
  • gana hosea

    Nice post. bt how is this data generated?

  • Hi Gana,

    It looks like the data comes from a variety of sources including Ethnologue, Freedom House, International Energy Agency, Reporters Without Borders, The UN, The ITU, Wikimedia Foundation, The CIA Factbook, The World Bank, The World Economic Forum.

    The data was then cleaned up and normalized so it could be merged into an overall score.

    More information can be found on the Web Index FAQs page: