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South Africa occupies a unique space as both a quickly evolving first-world society and a developing third-world country with related socio-economic issues. This has resulted in inequalities that leave many people unable to satisfy even their most basic human needs. South Africa also exists in an interesting technological space: high-speed internet connectivity and infrastructure are very poor, but close to 100% of the adult population have access to a cell phone. The average internet user has a relatively low level of proficiency but is likely to have a Facebook profile (over 50% do). However, those who are online represent the most affluent sectors of society – the sectors that any marketer ideally wants to target since they have the most spending power.

Internet growth in South Africa

South African internet usage has grown significantly over the last few years, and the South African online audience (which includes mobile and desktop usage) is around 14 million active users. According to statistics, just over 28 million “people” or de-duped browsers online, which equates to about 52% of the South African population and includes mobile, tablet, and desktop traffic. Accelerated growth started around 2007, when connectivity prices began to drop, and service providers started competing in earnest to get a share of the relatively small market. The government’s increasing appreciation for the value of improved IT infrastructure is leading to the gradual growth and availability of new services at lower rates; however, this process has been slow.

According to Price Waterhouse Cooper’s 2015-2019 South African Entertainment and Media outlook report, South Africa can expect continuous growth in online advertising due to more affordable smartphones and data. The report found that most people who access the internet in South Africa, do so using a mobile device. It also revealed that South African mobile internet subscribers are forecast to grow from 19.5 million in 2014 to 38.0 million in 2019. This has increased social and casual gaming among consumers and the increasingly affordability of the smartphone in South Africa has established a new market for gamers.

Many South Africans use their mobile devices to access their social media profiles. Here are some interesting figures of social media usage in South Africa:

  • According to a study named “South African Social Media Landscape 2017” conducted by World Wide Worx, South Africa had 14 million active Facebook users. This figure is up 8% from 13 million in
  • Twitter’s growth has slowed down, but it’s still one of South Africa’s popular social networks. The network has 7.7 million South African users, up by 3.9% from 7.4 million the previous
  • The report also highlights the intensified use of social media by South African corporations. YouTube’s user count increased to 8.74 million from 8.28 million. Instagram users has continued to grow at a rapid rate, with an increase of 32%, their user count is up to 3.5 million. More than 62% of major companies are currently using Instagram as part of their digital marketing strategy, with 26% of companies stating that they would plan to use the

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