Most VPNs proudly boast that they offer server networks that cover the entire globe. But one region which tends to be somewhat neglected is Africa.
This is something of an anomaly because Africa is not only home to more than 1.2 billion people but African countries are also frequently subjected to online government censorship, restrictions on internet freedoms and total internet blackouts.
African people are also as keen to unblock global streaming services as anyone else.
We know how vital VPNs are to the people of Africa, so we have undertaken an extensive programme of research to see which VPN is best for African internet users.
If you want to find out which has the features you need – keep reading.
How to choose a VPN for Africa
Before we reveal our pick of the leading VPN options for Africa, it's essential to explain the criteria we used in our assessment. Plus some of the features you should be looking out for when deciding.
While many of the requirements of African internet users are the same as others, some are particularly important.
- Continent-wide coverage – Not all VPNs offer a wide range of servers across Africa. But for African users, it is crucial to have as many local server options as possible. This helps with connection speeds as well as unblocking local content and evading censorship.
- Apps for all devices – The overwhelming majority of African internet users connect through a mobile device. Often, they are using older devices rather than the latest models, so need apps that work on these devices while being lightweight and effective. Travellers to African countries are also more likely to use mobile devices.
- Privacy protection – Privacy is a particular concern for many African internet users. A lot of African governments restrict online freedoms, especially political opposition. VPNs are a popular way to protect online privacy, but this means their protections must be robust.
- Concurrent connections – A smart way for African users to save money is to share subscriptions with family or friends. For those users, the number of simultaneous connections on offer is an important factor in choosing a VPN.
- Money-back guarantee – Price is an important factor for African users, many of whom want the best value for money from their VPN. They also like to be sure VPNs work before committing to a contract, so a good money-back guarantee is also highly valued.
Our tests took all of the usual requirements from a VPN into account but gave these features particular emphasis. The results are now in and these are our pick of the top VPN choices for African internet users or those travelling there.
Top 5 African VPN services
Taking into consideration features most suitable for users in Africa, here's our rundown of the finest VPN services:
1) ExpressVPN – #1 Recommendation
ExpressVPN is our number one recommended VPN for Africa. Their apps are some of the best we have tested and are available for just about any device you can think of which is perfect for African users.
They are based in the British Virgin Islands, which means they can offer superb privacy protections. This is also combined with robust 256-bit encryption to keep user data secure. ExpressVPN allows five connections with every subscription which is useful for users who want to club together.
Their server network is one of the biggest around with locations in 94 different countries. In Africa, they have servers in Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa.
There is room certainly room for expansion here but with locations in northern, central, and southern Africa, they cover more of the continent than most.
Download speeds are exceptional and consistent. As a result, it is the best VPN for unblocking streaming services in Africa. Price-wise, it is not the cheapest but offers excellent value for money and also has a lengthy 30-day money-back guarantee.
Our #1 Recommended African VPN
30-day money back guarantee
NordVPN is high-end VPN that comes at a budget price, making it a great option for African internet users. It has a huge range of apps covering just about every device. Importantly these apps are well-designed, easy-to-use, and lightweight, which makes them great for older devices.
NordVPN has a significant server network with more than 5,500 servers in 60 countries around the world.
In Africa, they only presently have servers in Egypt and South Africa, but there are plans to add more locations in due course. Their audited privacy promise ensures what you do while connected remains secure.
Connection speeds are generally good although there is some variation between different servers. They can unblock almost every online streaming service. Whether you want to watch US Netflix, the BBC iPlayer, or any other major service, they can help.
Their prices are among the most competitive around for a high-quality VPN and with a 30-day money-back guarantee in place too, they are an excellent choice for African internet users. There are six simultaneous connections available with each account too.
3) CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN has a terrific range of apps. They are available on most devices and, most importantly, are easy to use. They have settings to help you pick the right server for you, which means for beginners, CyberGhost is a great choice.
Their server network is decent and includes a good selection of African locations.
They currently boast servers in Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa, which means they have all parts of the continent covered. (Note: Not all servers are physically located in the country which is something to be aware of)
Connection speeds with CyberGhost are reasonable and should be more than sufficient for most users in Africa. Their privacy and security also meet industry standards too.
Importantly, there are seven simultaneous connections available with every subscription and an enormous 45-day money-back guarantee in addition to competitive prices.
Put all this together and CyberGhost offers a compelling package for African internet users.
4) Hide My Ass
Hide My Ass is the VPN with the most server locations of any provider, but there is a catch. They use virtual servers extensively and this can affect speeds across their network.
It does mean that they can spoof locations in most countries though and in Africa, they cover 53 countries with only South Sudan missing their list at the time of writing.
Careful consideration, therefore, needs to be given depending on your usage.
There are other compromises with Hide My Ass besides speeds. Their privacy policies also leave a lot to be desired and their apps, while looking great, are not as universal or user-friendly as other providers.
Their prices are about average for the market and there is also a 30-day money-back guarantee. Five simultaneous connections are also available with each subscription.
If you want to share a VPN subscription with friends or family, you will want a quality service which offers as many simultaneous connections as possible. IPVanish is, therefore, a good bet as they allow a huge ten connections with every subscription.
This is not their only positive point either. Their privacy policies and security are sound while their server network is also a big one with more than 1300 servers in 75 locations.
Sadly, South Africa is their only African location at the moment, though.
IPVanish's speeds are excellent, though. They also have a vast range of apps which are available on almost all devices and are both lightweight and functional.
Prices are competitive too but their money-back guarantee is only available for a more modest seven days.
Why you need a VPN for Africa
Africa may not be a key focus of the VPN industry at the moment but there are plenty of compelling reasons why internet users there should be connecting to a VPN before going online:
A worryingly large number of African governments use internet controls to try and retain their grip on power. This means that online censorship is an increasingly common occurrence across the content.
Using a VPN helps citizens of these countries get around such censorship and access the internet freely. They also allow political opponents and journalists to access information without restrictions.
Equally, if you're planning on travelling in Africa, you'll want to keep an open and unrestricted internet access.
Social Media Issues
Social media is a massive thing in Africa, with many people using it as their primary source of information as well as for communicating with people.
This, unfortunately, makes it a popular target for African governments who want to control information and political discourse.
Social media sites are frequently a target of censorship. In Uganda, they have even passed a social media tax to try and price people out of using it. A VPN can help to dodge this tax as well as avoid censorship.
Online surveillance is also a common issue in Africa. Taking their lead from authoritarian regimes like Communist China, African governments in counties as diverse as Angola, Kenya, Gambia, and Rwanda have also imposed internet monitoring regimes of different kinds.
This can involve state-controlled ISPs, hacking devices or accounts, or more nefarious means.
The aim is to identify those via their internet connection that are a threat to a regime or the religious values of a country and punish them accordingly.
But a VPN stops governments from being able to see what you are doing online whether you're using mobile data or Wi Fi connections.
Access global content
It is not just censorship but also geo restricted content that can stop Africans from enjoying global streaming services.
Whether you want to access Netflix regions while travelling or working in Africa or want a better content catalogue than those on offer to African users, a reliable VPN can help.
Is there a free VPN for Africa?
Free VPNs might seem an ideal solution for those in Africa as international exchange rates can make services on local salaries expensive. However, they are more trouble than they are worth.
Few, if any, free VPNs offer African servers and most are unable to unblock international streaming services like Netflix either.
They offer little privacy protection too. Most make money by selling your internet data while many are linked to Communist China.
Even more worrying, some free VPNs have been found to spread malware and other malicious software which can cause users untold problems.
If you want to save money on a VPN, the best bet is to sign up together with a group of friends and family.
You can connect up to ten devices simultaneously on IPVanish. If you can divide their subscription fee by ten, the cost becomes almost negligible while you can still enjoy the benefits of a premium VPN.
As we have learned, there are a lot of different reasons why African internet users need to be using a VPN. The need extends to anyone planning a holiday there or travelling to a nation in Africa for other reasons.
We have outlined the main ones in this article and also highlighted what VPN features you need to look for to mitigate these issues.
Most importantly, we have revealed the results of our research which have identified the most suitable virtual private network services to use across the continent.
ExpressVPN is our number one recommendation but regardless of which you choose, they'll all be suitable in most circumstances. So whether you're looking for a VPN for South Africa or Egypt choosing one of the five above will keep you secure.
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