The number of South African Internet users has passed the 5-million mark for the first time, representing the 10% mark in Internet penetration for the country.
This is the key finding of the Internet Access in South Africa 2010 study, conducted by World Wide Worx and jointly sponsored by Cisco. The headline data posted on 18 January shows that the Internet user base grew by 15% last year, from 4,6-million to 5,3-million, and is expected to grow at a similar rate in 2010.
“The good news is that we will continue to see strong growth in 2010, and we should reach the 6-million mark by the end of the year,’ says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx
“A sustained growth in Internet penetration is a key factor that will positively influence the economy of South Africa’, says Reshaad Sha, Senior Manager for Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. “The varied range of application services and social networking platforms used by local consumers has fuelled the uptake that we see today.’
Growth in the number of Internet users in South Africa was relatively stagnant from 2002 to 2007, when it never rose above 7%. However, this rate almost doubled in 2008, and continued accelerating in 2009.
The increase is attributed by World Wide Worx mainly to the granting of Electronic Communications Network Service licenses to more than 400 organisations which did not have to operate through service providers but could build their own networks or choose where they wanted to buy their access.
A second key factor in growth over the past two years has been the continued uptake of broadband connectivity by small and medium enterprises migrating from dial-up connectivity. Each company moving from dial-up to ADSL, for example, extended Internet access to general office staff. This process was found to add an additional one to 20 new users to the Internet user base for every small business installing ADSL.
The final Internet Access in SA 2010 report, is due to be released in March and will highlight the extent of new fibre-optic networks laid down across South African cities and between the cities. It will also examine the impact of the range of new undersea cables that will be in place by the end of 2011, and which is expected to enhance competitiveness even further.