CC  Sean MacEntee

What do SA’s 24.9 mil internet users spend most of their time doing online?

[For the latest stats on how many internet users there are in South Africa now and how they use it, you can read this update on the January 2016 usage trends]

The number of active internet users in South Africa has steadily grown in the past year, according to a report just released by social media marketing and communications agency, We Are Social, there are now 24% more internet users, bringing the total number up to 24.9 million.

Each year, We Are Social collects already existing data and combines it into a report that looks at the past year’s mobile, internet and social media trends from around the global and predicts which direction these trends will take in the new year.

South Africa is one of the countries profiled in the report, which reveals some other interesting stats on how we’ve progressed so far.

The slide below gives us a snapshot of how many active internet users, social media accounts, mobile connections there are in South Africa and what percentage of our total population those numbers are:


Screenshot (366)Social media

The number of active social media accounts grew by 20% to 11.8 million users. A survey conducted by the Global Web Index indicates that social media topped the list for the activity that most users spend their time on on their mobiles and that of all the social platforms available in South Africa, users spent most of their time on WhatsApp, followed by Facebook.

It’s interesting to note that Mxit doesn’t appear on the top ten social platforms listed below, although we reckon its hovering somewhere near the five million mark and according to the latest research from World Wide Worx is much bigger than Pinterest and just a bit smaller than Twitter. We can only assume that since We Are Social is an international agency, it missed the fact that there’s a local platform almost exclusively used by South Africans.

Screenshot (373)The report also reveals that the number of active social media accounts grew 20% and now stand at 11.8 million and of that number, 10.6 million are accessed via mobile.

Screenshot (372)Mobile connections and usage

In the last year, mobile connections saw a 16% increase bringing the total number up to 79.1 million 83% of those connections are pre-paid, 17% are on contract and 36% of the total mobile connections are on 3G or 4G.

Screenshot (374)Survey-based data also revealed that after using social media, most of mobile users’ activity is divided up between watching videos, playing games, shopping and making location-based searches.

Screenshot (375)Internet usage

Internet traffic numbers indicate that more South Africans’ are turning to mobile as a primary means of accessing the internet, followed by desktop, although internet traffic from desktop saw a decrease of 11%, on the other hand traffic from tablets saw the most amount of growth at 33%.


Screenshot (371)Survey-based data shows that users with access to different types of media spend twice as much time on internet-based products than on TV.

Screenshot (369)December, being the festive season, is always a month where a lot of people spend their time shopping online, survey-based data shows that 23% of the population bought something online from their PCs, while 11% bought from a site using their smartphones.

Screenshot (376)2015 predictions

“Mobile increasingly dominates the digital world, and we’re confident that ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ will gather even more pace during 2015, as cheaper handsets and more affordable data connections reach further around the world,” says We Are Social.

“With mobile-oriented services like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger achieving the top social media ranking spots in some of the world’s biggest economies, it’s clear that much of our digital behaviour is now converging around mobile devices. Based on the trends within this data, we expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during mid to late 2016.”

The also says that social media will have penetrated into one third of the world’s population by the end of this year (the number currently stands at just over 2 billion) and that developing nations such as ours will account for most of this growth.

You can read the full report and see total global figures and snapshots from other countries by downloading it from We Are Social.

[Main image CC – Sean MacEntee]

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