Babesia bigemina is one of the aetiological agents of bovine babesiosis, which causes economic losses through mortality, loss of production and control costs. Effective means of detecting and quantifying B. bigemina in cattle populations is therefore important to inform control approaches. In order to examine the parasite genetic diversity in African countries, B. bigemina 18S rRNA genes from cattle from South Africa, Uganda and Angola were sequenced. The 25 distinct B. bigemina 18S rRNA gene sequences obtained in this study showed 99 to 100% identity with previously published sequences of strains from African and other continents. The sequences of the previously published B. bigemina 18S rRNA gene-specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) primers and probe, developed based on American and Asian strains, were conserved in the African B. bigemina sequences. The qPCR assay was evaluated using 10-fold and 2-fold serial dilutions of B. bigemina-infected erythrocytes to determine the efficiency and analytical sensitivity. The qPCR assay had an efficiency of 98.14 ± 1.71%, and the limit of detection was approximately 1.5 infected red blood cells (iRBCs) per microlitre (μl) of blood. The detection rate of B. bigemina from duplicates of field-collected blood samples from cattle from South Africa, Mozambique and Angola was 37% (30/81), 12% (6/49) and 50% (38/76), respectively. Reverse line blot hybridisation (RLB) results obtained from the same samples in previous studies, using a previously published B. bigemina-specific probe, detected the parasite DNA in only 1.5% (3/206) of the samples. A new B. bigemina-specific RLB oligonucleotide probe was designed in the hypervariable V4 region of the 18S rRNA gene. Screening of field blood samples from cattle showed that the new probe was specific, and its frequency of detection of B. bigemina was three times higher than the previously published probe. The qPCR assay and the newly developed B. bigemina-specific RLB probe provide good tools for epidemiological studies, which are essential in the control of bovine babesiosis.