South African Internet Usage

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South Africa occupies a unique space as both a quickly evolving first-world society and a developing third-world country with related socio-economic issues.

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high-speed internet connectivity and infrastructure are extremely poor in South Africa, but close to 100% of the adult population have access to a Smart Cell Phone. The average internet user has a low level of proficiency but is likely to have a Facebook profile (over 50% do). However, those who are online represent the most affluent sectors of society – the sectors that any business ideally wants to target since they have the most spending power.

Internet growth in South Africa

South African internet usage has grown significantly over the last few years, and the South African online audience was around 30 million active users at the end of 2017, according to the Internet World Stats website (Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2018). This includes mobile, tablet, and desktop traffic. Accelerated growth started around 2007 when connectivity prices began to drop, and service providers started competing in earnest to get a share of the relatively small market. The government’s increasing appreciation for the value of improved IT infrastructure is leading to the gradual growth and availability of new services at lower rates.

According to PriceWaterhouseCooper’s 2017-2021 South African Entertainment and Media Outlook report, South Africa can expect continued growth in online advertising due to more affordable smartphones and data. The report found that most people who access the internet in South Africa, do so using a mobile device. It also revealed that South African mobile internet subscribers are forecast to grow to 44 million in 2021.

Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2018. Internet Penetration in South Africa on December 31, 2017. Available: [2018, February 28].

PWC. 2017. Entertainment and media outlook: 2017–2021. Available: [2018, February 28].

World Wide Worx Report. 2017. Digital trends in South Africa. Johannesburg: World Wide Worx.

World Wide Worx. 2017. SA Social Media Landscape 2017. Available: [2017, July 12].