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Published on
March 15, 2023 by Elly Hancock

Best DNA Tests for African Ancestry 2023: Accurate & Insightful

Best DNA Tests for African Ancestry 2023: Accurate & Insightful

A DNA test can provide valuable insights into your African ancestry, such as your family history and genealogy. But with so many DNA testing kits out there, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Whether you’re looking to trace your African roots or connect with distant relatives, selecting the right DNA testing kit is crucial for accurate and comprehensive results.

To help you navigate your unique background, I’ve tested various DNA testing kits for African ancestry and determined the best ones. When you have a clear understanding of what to look for in a DNA testing kit, you can make an informed decision and begin your African ancestry exploration with confidence.

My top recommendation for exploring African ancestry is AncestryDNA. Not only does it have a vast database of DNA samples, but it also offers a huge number of reference populations that are specific to African ancestry. This ensures more precise and detailed results and a better understanding of your heritage.

Try AncestryDNA

Short on time? Here are the best DNA tests for African ancestry

Discover your African Ancestry with Ancestry!

What We Look for in the Best DNA Tests for African Ancestry

To round up the best DNA tests for African ancestry, we made sure each kit met certain criteria. Here’s what we looked for:

  • African relevance: It’s important that your test has good coverage in various African regions and can accurately identify your African ethnicity
  • DNA matching tools: We found tests that help you connect with your African ancestors by finding people who share your DNA.
  • Migration mapping: These tools let you track your ancestors around the globe and see where they moved to.
  • Quick results: You shouldn’t have to wait forever for your ancestry report, so we picked tests with quick results times.
  • Affordability: We only picked tests that offer good value for your money, with results that you want.

Detailed Look at the Tests Offered

1. AncestryDNA – Best for African American Ancestry

  • Covers 12 African and 20 African American regions
  • Shows you which African communities your DNA comes from
  • DNA matching finds relatives and common ancestors
  • Results in 6-8 weeks

AncestryDNA has the largest DNA database of any test available and analyzes over 700,000 genetic markers to accurately identify your ancestry. It covers 1,000+ regions, which includes 12 African regions.

The huge DNA repository is important because the company compares your details to the information in its database to identify DNA matches. It then shows you the percentage of DNA you share, displays common ancestors, and allows you to click on any of your matches to send a message. If you’re hoping to connect with relatives (distant and maybe not-so-distant), this service offers you the best opportunity.

Aside from that, AncestryDNA is a great choice if you know you have African American ethnicity in your heritage. It covers 20 different African American locales alongside the usual African regions. This includes afro-Jamaicans, early North Carolina African Americans, and even lesser Antilles African Carribeans.

In your report, you’ll see all the regions in your DNA via a map. It also shows you a list of Genetic Communities, which are groups of people that likely descended from the same African area around the same time. So within each African area, you can see which community your DNA originated from. I really liked the layout of the Communities map — each cluster is broken up by color, and you can easily see how people moved during the Great Migration.

AncestryDNA has a family tree builder, and it even adds DNA matches from its database to your tree. I think this is a must-have feature, but here’s what I don’t like: This service isn’t included with the cost of your test — you have to pay extra.

It takes 6-8 weeks to produce your report, so a little bit longer than most, but I definitely think it’s a test worth waiting for.

Discover Your African Heritage with AncestryDNA!

2. Living DNA – Best for Specialist African Ancestry

  • Covers 72 African sub-regions and 150 global regions
  • mtDNA and Y-DNA haplogroup mapping
  • DNA relative finder feature
  • Results in 6-8 weeks

Living DNA is a great choice for specialist African ancestry because it offers five times more detail in its African reports than any other test.

While it only covers 150 regions, it dives into these regions in much more detail, so you get even more insight from your report.

It includes 72 African sub-region estimates such as Somali, Tunisia, and Southwestern Bantu. Sub-regional mapping means Living DNA can pinpoint where in each area of Africa you come from, helping you to get an accurate match.

With Living DNA, you can learn about your mtDNA and Y-DNA lines, tracing your ancestor’s steps as they moved from Africa to places around the globe — on both sides of your family.

I really liked the maps and info that come with these results — they’re easy to understand and really help paint a clearer picture of how your past influences your present. Just click on any region on your map to learn about it in more detail. Each comes with interesting facts, geographical history, and migration patterns, allowing you to better understand the timeline of your heritage.

As with some of my other top choices, Living DNA has a matching feature for tracking down your relatives. Make sure you opt in to Family Networks to access this service and see how much DNA you share with other Living DNA users.

Living DNA is one of the best DNA tests for African ancestry, but there’s one big reason why it’s not higher on our list: the potential speed of its results. While it promises most reports in 6-8 weeks (which is in line with most companies), it does warn that it can sometimes take up to 12 weeks.

Get Specialist African Ancestry Insights with Living DNA!

3. FamilyTreeDNA – Best For Ancient African Ancestry

  • Ethnicity estimates to 8 African locations
  • Deep ancestry insights with DNA matches to ancient European groups
  • Trace ancestors’ migration paths
  • Results in 2-4 weeks

FamilyTreeDNA matches your ancestry to 90+ worldwide populations. It covers 8 African locations and 17 African population groups. I don’t like that this isn’t as many as others on this list, but it will still provide you with accurate ethnicity estimates.

With FamilyTreeDNA, you can learn about your deepest African origins because it shows you how much DNA you share with ancient European groups. You can see how your ancestors lived and how they migrated around the globe.

The heat map highlights where your African ancestors come from and all the geographical regions in your DNA. Each comes with loads of historical and anthropological information about your black ancestors.

I like that you have the option of tracing your paternal and maternal haplogroups — but take note: These are separate DNA tests, which means you’ll need to pay more. However, the standard test comes with DNA matching, so you can sort found relatives into mtDNA and Y-DNA groups.

How fast you receive your results will depend on the test you order. The Family Finder test is pretty quick, taking only 2-4 weeks. The other two tests may take to 3-6 weeks.

Discover Ancient African Origins with FamilyTreeDNA!

4. Nebula Genomics – Best For Detailed African Ancestry Reports

  • Ethnicity estimates to 8 African locations
  • Deep ancestry insights with DNA matches to ancient European groups
  • Trace ancestors’ migration paths
  • Results in 2-4 weeks

Nebula Genomics offers comprehensive sequencing and analysis of African ancestry data, which gives you a deeper understanding of your genetic heritage. By leveraging a large database of African genetic data, you can receive accurate and detailed insights into your family history, cultural background, and migration patterns. Using this data helped me connect with my African heritage in a way I never thought possible.

Additionally, Nebula Genomics offers personalized genetic counseling services to help you understand the implications of your DNA test results for your health. Since people with African ancestry can have unique genetic variations and disease risks, getting specialized guidance is often highly useful. The counseling helped me better understand my DNA test results and gave me the guidance to make informed decisions about my health.

With Nebula Genomics’ strict privacy and consent policies, you can trust that your genetic data is safe and secure. This is especially relevant if you have African ancestry, as there are concerns about the use of genetic data for discriminatory purposes. You have complete control over your data, including the ability to delete it at any time, ensuring that your genetic information is only used in ways that you are comfortable with.

While Nebula Genomics requires a mandatory subscription to the Nebula Explore plan to access your personalized reports, the level of detail you get justifies the subscription cost. Its reports are informative, easy to understand, and regularly updated, so you can always have the latest information about your African ancestry at your fingertips.

Discover Ancient African Origins with Nebula Genomics!

What’s in the Fine Print?

None of the tests on this list have anything particularly horrible hiding in their fine print. But there are some important fees you should be aware of.

The only test on this list to offer free shipping is AncestryDNA, so you’ll need to cover the cost yourself with all of the other kits. Usually, this is no more than $10, but it’s something to keep in mind before purchasing.

If you’re in a rush to see your results, you’ll want to consider express shipping — Living DNA charges up to $39.95 for quicker delivery. 

AncestryDNA offers family tree builders, but these are not free. You’ll need to pay a regular subscription fee, which can cost as much as $49.99 a month!

Remember that FamilyTreeDNA has three different tests available. If you want Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, you need to buy a separate test, and these can be quite expensive.

How Accurate are DNA Tests for African Ancestry?

No DNA test is 100% accurate, so regardless of the test you choose, there will always be a small margin of error. With leading testing companies, however, you can usually expect 97% or more accuracy.

The accuracy of your results can also depend on the size of the testing company’s database and the geographical regions covered. More samples mean more people (and populations) to which to compare your DNA and accurately identify your ethnicity.

If a test covers a high number of African regions and sub-regions, such as Ancestry, it’s also more likely that you’ll get an in-depth, reliable result, because it can more accurately pinpoint where your DNA comes from.

What Will the Results from an African Ancestry DNA Test Tell Me?

You’d expect an African ancestry DNA test to be able to accurately identify your ethnicity and show you all the African regions in your DNA. But they can also tell you so much more, including:

  • Where your ancestors lived, with geographical and historical insights
  • Your ancestors’ migration maps from both paternal lines
  • Possible relatives and long-lost ancestors using DNA matching
  • A family tree and access to genealogical records to help you track down ancestors

How Do Our Top Picks Compete on Price?

AncestryDNA comes in at just shy of $100, with free shipping too. It also has the largest database of all the kits on this list, so it’s budget-friendly and offers better chances of you finding DNA relatives.

An ancestry test from Living DNA also costs about $100, and its comes with specialized African ancestry, including sub-regional mapping. 23andMe is priced the same but doesn’t go into as much detail about your ancestry.

FamilyTreeDNA’s price is also in line with these other tests, but it doesn’t include mtDNA or Y-DNA migration maps as you get with many other tests. You have to pay separately for those, which can range from about $120 to $500. And that’s on top of the fee you have to pay for your standard DNA test.

Which African Ancestry DNA Test is the Best?

The best test for you depends on what you really want to learn from your results. Our overall winner is AncestryDNA because it covers so many African regions, it’s accurate, and you get tons of extra insights, like haplogroup migration maps.

You might choose AncestryDNA if you’re interested in finding your African ancestors. With the largest DNA database, the chances of you tracking down relatives are much greater. It’s also a good choice for discovering your African American origins.

I’d recommend Nebula Genomics if you’re after in-depth reports on your African ancestry.

African Ancestry DNA Test Kits Comparison Table

  African regions covered Relative Finder mtDNA & Y-DNA Mapping Time to Results Starting Price
AncestryDNA 32 6-8 weeks $99.00
Living DNA 72 6-8 weeks $99.00
FamilyTreeDNA 17

(separate tests)

2-4weeks $79.00
Nebula Genomics 72 12-14 weeks $299.00

Discover Your African Heritage

An at-home DNA test can reveal more about your African heritage than you might think.

As well as identifying your ethnicity percentages and decoding from which African populations you hail, many tests can help you track down your ancestors and learn about your heritage. And we’ve handpicked the best African ancestry DNA tests for you.

Ancestry is my #1 choice for accurate African ethnicity percentages and its relative finder for locating your African ancestors.

Want to build your African family tree? Check out our recommendations of the best family tree builders.

Best DNA Tests for African Ancestry in 2023


Why should I take an African ancestry DNA test?

If you know you have African heritage or are curious to learn all about the ethnicities in your genes, a DNA test can help you find answers. A DNA test can tell you from which African regions your DNA originates, show you how your ancestors moved around the globe, and even put you in contact with long-lost relatives.

We researched and tested lots of kits, and we found Ancestry has the best DNA test for African ancestry. It covers dozens of African regions and offers incredible detail.

How do I trace my African ancestry?

Your DNA test shows you all the African regions in your DNA, and most also track your mtDNA and Y-DNA lines so you can see where your ancestors came from and how they moved around the globe. This is usually displayed on an interactive map that can explain how your ancestors lived, where, and for how long.

Tests like AncestryDNA use DNA relative finders to see if it can find you any matches. You can see the percentage of DNA you share and even reach out to start a conversation. Using this information, you can then start to build your own family tree, undertake genealogical research, and trace your African ancestry.

How do I find out what African tribe I’m from?

This depends on which DNA test you choose. Many tests can’t really tell you the exact tribe to which your ancestors belonged because African genetics is still (comparatively) under-researched.

But tests like Ancestry can trace populations, so they can tell you from which African populations your ancestors came. This includes many African tribes.

How do I find my African ancestors?

If you choose a test with a DNA relative finder, the testing company scans its database when analyzing your DNA to see if you share your DNA with anyone else. AncestryDNA has the largest DNA database, so it’s one of the best for finding your African ancestors.

Your report usually shows you how much DNA you share, how you’re related, and where they come from. Most of the time, you can also connect with your ancestors and reach out to them, which can help you track down more of your relatives.

You can also use genealogical databases to search through records, find your African ancestors, and build your family tree. Most companies charge a monthly subscription for these services.

About Author
Elly Hancock
Elly Hancock

Elly Hancock is a professional writer based in the UK with experience of creating engaging web copy for a variety of industries, from internet technology and science, to food and nutrition. Her love for content writing stems from an ability to connect with readers, understand their needs, and provide solutions in an honest and easy-to-read manner. In her spare time, you can find Elly on long dog walks, cooking a new recipe, or in the gym.

Elly Hancock is a professional writer based in the UK with experience of creating engaging web copy for a variety of industries, from internet technology and science, to food and nutrition. Her love for content writing stems from an ability to connect with readers, understand their needs, and provide solutions in an honest and easy-to-read manner. In her spare time, you can find Elly on long dog walks, cooking a new recipe, or in the gym.