South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world both by population, and land area. Of it’s population of 53 million, just under 24 million have access to the internet, giving it an internet penetration of just under 45%. Interestingly it has 3 capital cities; Pretoria – executive, Bloemfontein – judicial, Cape Town – legislative, of which none of these is the largest – Johannesburg.
The Best VPNs for South Africa
Though ‘Internet Freedom’ is considered Free according to Freedom House, since 2010 the media has only been considered Partially Free. The reason for this is, while it has a vibrant media environment, that the press is still sometimes the centre point of legal cases and physical harassment, with the biggest issue being threats to curtail access to information. Though libel isn’t criminalized, many civil cases are brought against members of press. With regards to the internet there are very few restrictions, par one which we will discuss below, and most of these concern pornography.
So while internet access and limitations are fairly good some people would still like to use a VPN for protecting themselves, secure browsing or accessing geo-location content. See below our summary of the 5 Best VPNs for South Africa followed by a brief description of each.
Best VPNs for South Africa Summary
- Our Score
- Visit Site
- Based in Bulgaria
- Shared IPs
- 5 simultaneous devices
- Allows P2P
- Accepts BitCoins
- Small teething issues
VPN Area is a small Bulgarian company, with some solid roots. They have a well designed client and great customer support to help sort out any problems. The second is very important as being such a new company there are a few teething problems, here and there, but nothing serious.
It has an amazing server range, great speeds and with the fantastic 7 day free trial, there is no reason not to give them a go.
- Good all rounder
- Great speeds
- US based
- Bit pricey
ExpressVPN is a giant in the VPN business and you’ve probably already heard of them. As a result of this, they provide one of the best speeds and customer support services out there.
They are a bit pricey and are based in the US though. They also have a no bells and whistles client, which most users do prefer. Overall with their well established reputation and extensive device support, it’s hard to go wrong with them.
- No logs
- Allows P2P
- Panama based
- 256bit encryption
- Plenty of servers
- Inconsistent speeds
Being based in Panama gives NordVPN a great position, as it allows it to avoid both US and EU censorships and laws. This also means they have a true zero logs service, alongside great encryption and plenty of servers everywhere in the world.
On top of this they use an extremely secure double-hop encryption system, which unfortunately means that sometimes speeds can be inconsistent. However, overall they are great.
- Easy-to-use software
- Excellent speeds
- No logs
- Great value
- Based in the US
IPVanish are a very solid VPN service, with over 15 years experience in managing networks. This means that not only do they have blazing fast speeds but also have great security. There software is a great match to this as well.
On top of this they have an extensive server list and a great value for money service, it’s just a shame that they are based in the US.
- Great software
- Lots of servers
- Good customer service
- Based in the UK
Like IPVanish and Express, HideMyAss is a big name business in the VPN area. Unlike those though, they are based in the UK which unfortunately is equally bad, if not worse in some respects, for the monitoring and restricting internet users. They have plenty of servers that provide good speeds.
Overall they are a good medium priced company and with a 30 day money back guarantee you have a great chance of testing them.
Protection of State Information Bill
The biggest issue at the moment in South Africa, is the Protection of State Information Bill. It is commonly referred to as the Secrecy Bill and it’s intent is to protect the government in secret matters and update the 1982 Act under the same name. In 2013 the bill was not passed into law as Jacob Zuma, the president, refused it and requested that changes be made to it.
The issue with the bill, is that while everyone understands that some things need to stay secret, in it’s current wording and set up it gives a lot of power and leverage to the state. Thereby they outweight transparency and freedom of expression. Many believe that the Bill could lead to an undermining of right to access and more importantly endanger journalists.
Apart from this bill there are very little worries with relation to internet freedom and access in South Africa, apart from the aforementioned porn limitations, which are understandable.
Overall internet/press access and freedom in South Africa is very good especially considering the surrounding regions and turmoil in other Africa countries. If you wish to use a VPN in South Africa we have picked out the best ones for you and in case you need a quick recap, you can find it below.