South Africa is currently experiencing strong broadband adoption and Internet usage growth – something which was expected many years ago but was hampered by government interference and a monopolistic fixed line environment.
According to a recent research report by World Wide Works South, Africa’s Internet population is expected to grow as much in the next five years as it has in the 15 years since the Internet became commercially available in South Africa.
The research also shows that the number of Internet users in South Africa grew by 12.5% to 4,6-million in 2008 – the first time since 2001 it has grown by more than 8%. The increased growth rate is expected to continue for the next five years, taking the Internet user population to the 9 million mark.
This strong growth in Internet adoption means that there is a new wave of users who are getting their news online and are using the Internet for communication, ecommerce and social networking. This begs the question as to which websites are the most popular among South Africa.
According to Alexa, which measures the popularity of websites, Google is the most popular website among South Africans. Facebook is second while Yahoo completes the top three. The rest of the Top 10 is YouTube, WikiPedia, Blogger.com, News24, Microsoft Network, Gumtree and Windows Live.
According to Alexa, Standard Bank and ABSA are placed twelfth and thirteenth while IOL and MWEB are placed sixteenth and eighteenth respectively. This means that six of the top 20 sites visited by South Africans are local websites, an improvement in rankings from a year ago.
When it comes to local websites News24 remains by far the most popular online destination in South Africa. According to the latest Nielsen Online Ranking Report – which ranks local websites according to unique monthly visitors – News 24 attracted just over 2 million unique browsers in March 2009. IOL was second with 1.09 million followed closely by MSN with 1.08 million.
The rest of the Top 10 local websites according to Nielsen Online are Hotmail ZA, Webmail, The Times, MyBroadband, Supersport and Vodacom4Me. This list however only includes Online Publisher Association members, and a few large websites in South Africa are therefore excluded.
One can safely assume that Gumtree, ABSA, Standard Bank and BidorBuy will comfortably fit into the top 10 websites in South Africa in a list which includes ecommerce ad company websites.
Biggest local blogs
When it comes to local blogs audited statistics like the Nielsen Online Ranking Report is not available, but South African blogging aggregator Amatomu gives a good indication of which blogs are the most popular.
According to Amatomu, Keo.co.za, the leading rugby blog in South Africa, is the most popular local blog. While audited statistics in not available, it is likely that Keo attracts between 300 000 and 400 000 unique visitors per month.
The second most popular blog is another ruby blog Rugbydump while Charl Norman’s Carblog completes the top three. The Top 10 is completed by Coke Zero Fest 2009, Thought Leader,The Times Planet Blog, Times Multimedia, Adii Freelancer & Business Strategist, 2OceansVibe and MSFT.NET Blogs (ZA).
More advertising spend
The strong growth in online readership and the increasing popularity of local websites translated in accelerating online advertising spend. According to World Wide Worx online advertising in South Africa grew at the fastest rate of all countries in the English-language world in 2008, and is likely to repeat this performance in 2009.
This bodes well for the local online industry, with more investments flowing into the South African Internet market and more content being developed to serve local consumers.
SA’s biggest websites – which websites are your favourites?