SA internet population jumps

2013-07-24 14:20
Mobile broadband internet is vital to economic growth. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Mobile broadband internet is vital to economic growth. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Internet penetration is growing in SA and the latest survey reveals that the number of people with access to the web is higher than thought.

"Research conducted by the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) and Echo Consultancy estimates the total internet population in South Africa in 2013 to be almost 14 million users. This represents 39% of the adult population," the DMMA said in its latest report.

The results indicate that the South African internet audience grew by two million in the last 12 months, the organisation said.

Some of the growth can be attributed to the decline in the cost of mobile data as well as the growth of smartphones and other smart mobile devices that allow users to access the internet.

The DMMA said that the increasing number of local users going online presented a new opportunity for advertisers.


"This has direct implications for the media mix that marketers purchase," said Jarred Cinman, chair of the DMMA Steerco.

World Bank figures show that for every 10% increase in mobile penetration, there is a corresponding 0.8% increase in gross domestic product (GDP).

"Mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development - from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes," said World Bank vice president for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte.

The survey was derived from the All Media Products Survey (Amps) and independently validated by Effective Measure (EM).

"Some users access the internet from more than one device – ie laptop, mobile phone and home computer. EM will count this as three Unique Browsers, but marketers are interested in reaching people not machines," said Peter Langschmidt, the managing director of Echo and who sits on the board of the South African Audience Research Foundation.

He added that the data from EM was weighted to translate number of browsers to people, resulting in an accurate figure.


"Through recoding AMPS to take mobile access into account, we were able to provide a figure that matched the EM online universe," said Langschmidt.

Despite the growth in South Africa's internet population, some have argued that the government should take the lead in pushing broadband into rural areas where there is often a chronic lack of access.

"Government has to realise that they have to play a role where we might have to invest a lot of money to rollout that broadband infrastructure for the poor because you're not going to have the big players or the big operators coming to say 'We're going to deploy broadband in a little village in Limpopo.' There's no business case to do that," Alpheus Mangale, managing director of Cisco told News24 recently.

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