How South Africa’s middle class makes use of technology

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A lot of us tend to take broadband connections for granted, even though the speeds in South Africa don’t really compare to those overseas. But by the end of 2013, only 10.7 per cent (1.6 million) of the households in the country had a broadband connection.

According to the Institute for Race Relations (IRR), while 10.7 per cent sounds like a fairly small amount, it does paint a better picture of South Africa’s middle class.

In a recent study, it showed that the amount is “in line with the proportion of households with a bond and just somewhat behind that of households spending over R10 000 per month.”

[Image – IRR]
broadband 2
[Image – IRR]

One of the things you’d think many people make use of is internet banking, but you’d be wrong. According to the study, only 5.5 per cent of the working-age population made use of it by the end of last year.

internet banking
[Image – IRR]

To determine exactly what is classified as middle-class, the IRR had a look at what sort of technological devices people have in their homes.

“Just 26.9% of the 15 602 000 households in the country have a computer at home and only 17.6% have vacuum cleaners. Only 12% of households have DStv premium subscriptions and 7.9% have a PVR or dual view decoder.”

Interestingly, the devices and products with the most growth between 2004 and 2014 are DVD players (910% growth), PVR decoders (275% growth) and personal computers (266% growth).

Tech 2
[Image – IRR]
Tech 1
[Image – IRR]

Bringing all of its research together, the Institute compiled a list of middle-class indicators.

Middle class
[Image – IRR]

“As an absolute maximum, one could stretch the size of the middle class to say that it accounts for, at best, 20% of people in the country. The more realistic estimate is closer to 10% or perhaps somewhat below that,” it concluded.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Laia Ros]



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