The number of Internet users in South Africa

The South African Internet user population passed the 20-million mark for the first time last year, reaching 21 million, and is expected to grow to at least 22.5 million in 2017.

This is the main finding of the Internet Access in South Africa 2017 study, released today by World Wide Worx with the support of Dark Fibre Africa (DFA).

Based on Stats SA’s estimate that the South African population reached 55.9-million people in June 2016, this means the country’s Internet penetration is just under 38%, and is on its way to 40%.

The report includes data from the Target Group Index (TGI) survey conducted by Ask Afrika.

World Wide Worx collaborated with Ask Afrika in the structuring of e-commerce, digital, and electronics components of the TGI, which comprises 15,000 interviews across a vast range of consumer topics and behaviours.

It asked respondents how they primarily use the Internet, and it was answered by a sample representing 4.1 million South African adults across all income and education levels.

It revealed that the single most common use of the Internet among South African adults is communication, reported by 31% of respondents, followed by social networking 24.9%, and information 23.7%. Entertainment follows at 22.1%.

E-mail was reported by only 16.1% of respondents, indicating that it is becoming a less important element of the communications mix as social media becomes a default channel, World Wide Worx said.

Shopping and finance is cited by only 15.2% of respondents, which the research firm said confirms earlier findings that e-commerce was still not a major element of South African retail in general.

Now read: South African IT professionals — favourite computer and smartphone brands

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The number of Internet users in South Africa