What Is The Best VPN for South Africa in 2020?
NordVPN offers the best Virtual Private Network protection for your South Africa-based internet activities. Speedy encrypted connections, excellent privacy protections, and good customer support and global server coverage all add up to the best option for protecting your internet connection while visiting or living in South Africa.
This provider is also a great way to protect your online activities while you’re out and about and using public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Internet Freedom in South Africa
Internet access in South Africa is currently available to approximately 54% of the South African population.
In recent years, these internet freedom-related developments have occurred:
Freedom House gives South Africa a 2017 Internet Freedom Score of 25/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free), ranking it as the nation with the 10th most free internet in the world.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in South Africa
Why Do You Need a VPN in South Africa?
While South Africa’s internet infrastructure is one of the best on the African continent, internet users in the country face certain limitations to their internet freedom. In this section, I’ll cover those limitations, explaining the perils faced by South African internet users.
The South African government generally allows a free internet in the country, although it does partially censor political content.
The government there has considered creating a “Media Appeals Tribunal,” which could bring sanctions against journalists for “misconduct.” (It hasn’t officially announced what types of conduct it would term as “misconduct.”)
However, authorities have not yet targeted bloggers or other online content creators for their activities.
As of 2006, the South African government began blocking sites in the country from offering certain types of sexually explicit content. In 2007, authorities arrested a South African “sex blogger.”
I know these restrictions will not affect my readership - I am merely mentioning them to give readers an idea of the state of internet censorship.
The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 (ECTA) requires Internet Service Providers to implement takedown notices for illegal content, including copyrighted material, defamatory content and sexually explicit content.
Voice Over IP
While Voice over IP (VoIP) service is legal in South Africa, governments and other third parties can easily monitor the service.
Social media outlets are widely available in South Africa, with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn proving the most popular with a 96.6%, 89.7% and 71.6% of social media users connecting, respectively.
Other platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are also showing growth.
While the South African government does not currently block pirating sites, there has been talk of laws that would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block torrenting traffic.
The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act of 2002 (RICA) requires ISPs to keep data concerning customer activity for an unspecified period of time and bans any communications system that cannot be monitored.
While Netflix is available in the country, South African Netflix content offers only 203 television shows and 477 films. Compare that to the 1,326 television shows and 4,339 movies available in the United States.
Meanwhile, Hulu is available only in the U.S. and Japan, and BBC iPlayer is available only to viewers inside the borders of the United Kingdom.
Legality of VPNs in South Africa
Despite RICA’s banning of any communications system that the government cannot monitor, it does not explicitly forbid internet users from using encryption on their connections, such as VPN encryption.
The National Gambling Act of 2004 banned online gambling, and an update in 2011 further enforced those laws.
However, many South African gamblers continue to gamble in online casinos, despite a government willing to prosecute them for gambling online.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in South Africa
By using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), users can protect their online activities against monitoring, keeping the prying eyes of outside parties - such as the government, Internet Service Providers or hackers - out of their business.
A VPN protects your connection by applying a smooth, creamy layer of encryption to their internet connection, keeping it under cover from prying eyes.
While the South African government doesn’t actively block a user’s access to the outside world, users will find that content providers sometimes block content, such as music and video streaming content, from certain locations due to licensing restrictions.
A VPN’s IP address “spoofing” ability can make it appear that a user’s connection originates from another location, helping to open up access to geographically-blocked content.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in South Africa
When you’re making a decision about the right VPN to use while residing in or visiting South Africa, you should carefully consider several factors before laying down your hard-earned Rands.
When researching a VPN, consider things like privacy protection, connection speed, customer support and global server coverage.
In each of the following sections, I will explain each VPN feature, tell you why it is important, and then offer a list of my top 10 VPN providers, ranked in order of how well each provider performs in that featured category.
If you use the internet, your privacy is always at risk.
In addition to hackers who would like to steal your information, there are plenty of folks who would love to be able to follow the path you take during your online travels. ISPs, advertisers, content owners and the government are just some of the third parties who would love to get a look at logs containing information about your online activities.
Be sure to check the privacy protections offered by any provider that you’re considering. Investigate to find out where the provider is located, what the data retention laws for VPNs are in that country, what type of data the VPN retains, and what type of privacy-friendly payment operations, such as Bitcoin, are accepted by the provider.
The providers listed below are ranked best to worst, in order of the privacy protections they offer.
It’s a stone cold fact: when it comes to online activities, faster is always better. (Well, at least when we’re talking about connection speeds.)
The better connection speeds delivered by a VPN, the more enjoyable your online activities, such as streaming video or playing online games, will be.
When testing the connection speeds delivered by the 10 VPN providers listed below, I did the following:
Step #1 - I visited the Speedtest website to test my connection speed while connected only to my ISP.
Step #2 - I then loaded each VPN provider’s app on my computer and connected to the provider.
Step #3 - I once again visited the Speedtest website and ran the connection speed test a second time.
Step #4 - I then calculated the speed percentages by comparing the two speeds.
The providers in the list below are ranked according to their VPN download speeds, sorted fastest to slowest.
Global Server Coverage
Always check the global server coverage offered by any VPN that you’re considering.
Wide-spread global server coverage is THE tool to open up previously blocked video, audio, gaming and other types of content and services that are normally blocked in your area, due to geographical blockades put up by governments and content providers.
In the screenshot below, you can see a good representation of the type of global server coverage you should be looking for.
In the list below, you’ll see my top 10 VPN providers, ranked according to how well they cover the globe with their servers, best to worst.
Other Factors to Consider
No matter the service or product involved, it’s safe to say that no one wants to deal with customer support.
However, there is a good chance you’ll need to contact your VPN provider’s customer support department sometime during your subscription period. When that time comes, you’ll want multiple support options, easy-to-contact personnel, and quick and informed replies to your questions.
Most VPN providers offer multiple points of contact for customers who need help with their VPN connection, or who have a billing question.
Always look for an easy-to-use support library, a trouble ticket submission/tracking system, and last but certainly not least, a live support chat option. You’ll likely not find a phone support option from any provider you look at, as most VPN services don’t offer that type of support in an effort to keep costs down.
The providers on the list found below are ranked first to worst according to types of support offered and the speed and accuracy of their replies to support questions.
While there is always “that guy” who doesn’t worry about the cost of anything, I will venture to say that most of my readers are watching their expenses, or at the very least enjoy finding a good deal.
In this section, I’ll offer a few tips on how to find this good deal when deciding on a VPN provider. I’ll also discuss why the lowest price isn’t necessarily the best price, and how you can snag an even better deal if you’re willing to do some research.
Do your best not to fall into the old trap of “the lowest price is always the best price.” If you find a provider is offering a price that comes in way under those being offered by their competitors, make sure the services offered by that provider measure up to their high-priced brethren. Examine their features to make sure corners aren’t being cut in any important areas in order to offer a lower price.
One way to save a good piece of change is to stay alert for special subscription deals. Most providers run promotions that offer excellent savings over their regular tariffs. However, you should be advised that many of these deals will require you to subscribe for a longer period than usual. (Perhaps two years instead of one year.) Always visit a provider’s website for their current deals.
If you’re on a tight budget, and can’t really swing paying for an entire annual subscription, don’t worry. There’s always the option of paying month-to-month for a VPN subscription. However, this will almost always cost you more over an extended period of time.
*The prices in the table reflect the monthly cost when paying for an annual subscription. (Annual Subscription Price / 12 Months.)
The Best VPNs to Use in South Africa
#1 - NordVPN
Panama-based NordVPN benefits completely from their host country’s lack of data retention laws as they apply to VPNs. This allows the provider to keep no logs of any kind associated with their customers’ online antics. No logs equal a good thing.
The provider also scores points in the privacy column by accepting Bitcoin in return for their services.
NordVPN’s connection speeds aren’t the fastest on the block, but with speeds coming in at around 90% of my usual speeds, they should be up to just about any of your online needs. Depending on your usual ISP speeds, of course.
Global Server Coverage
This provider’s global server coverage might not rank at the top of the list, but with 3,500+ servers located in 61 countries around the globe, NordVPN will still do a better-than-average job of unblocking content in most locations in the free world.
NordVPN shines in the customer support column, offering live support chat, a trouble ticket system and an easy-to-search support library.
This provider’s customer support folk were always quick with an informed reply to my support inquiries. The provider’s support library was always a great resource for a quick bit of info.
At $5.75-per-month (payable at $69.00 per year), NordVPN is one of the more expensive providers on this list, yet that is not an unreasonable asking price for the great level of protection they offer.
NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN’s #1 finish was due to its comprehensive privacy protection, awesome customer support, more-than-adequate connection speeds and wide-ranging global server coverage.
Sure, it could be priced better, but as I said before, the lowest-priced provider isn’t necessarily the best choice.
#2 - VyprVPN
Let’s kick off the VyprVPN section with the worst category for the provider.
Privacy protection is not a bright spot for this company, despite being based in privacy-friendly Switzerland. It doesn’t matter to VyprVPN that their home country doesn’t require them to save any logs - they have still decided to keep some information about their customers’ VPN sessions.
Logs are kept by the provider for up to 30 days, and it should be noted that they don’t contain any info that exposes the websites you visit or the files that you download.
The information they contain includes the following: The user’s actual IP address, their VyprVPN-assigned IP, the start and end times of each session, and the amount of data used during the session. While all of this is relatively benign, I still say the best logs are no logs at all.
No payment privacy to be found here either, as Bitcoin or merchant gift card payment options are absent.
This top 5 list is a fast pack, boasting some excellent connection speeds. Even the slowest provider on the list is still more than up to most anything a user might need it for. So when I say VyprVPN’s connection speeds are only good enough for 3rd place, that doesn’t mean they’re bad.
The provider regularly came in at 95% of my ISP-provided speeds, and that’s plenty fast, my friend.
Global Server Coverage
With over 700 servers located strategically in 65 countries, VyprVPN’s global server coverage should prove to be a valuable piece of the puzzle when it comes to unblocking the geographically-blocked content you’re coveting.
VyprVPN’s customer support is second to no one on this list. Providing live support chat, a searchable support library and a trouble ticket management system, it’s all there for you.
This provider’s support personnel were quick to offer a knowledgeable response to my questions, and I always had the support library as an easy-to-use option if all else failed.
This provider is reasonably priced, asking only $5.00 per month (payable annually at $60.00 per year). That’s a fair price for a provider of this stature.
VyprVPN offers buyers a 3-day money-back guarantee.
VyprVPN earned a solid 2nd place by offering solid customer support, fast connections and good global server coverage. With better privacy protections, it might have scored a 1st-place finish.