South Africans spend over 8 hours a day online – and a third of that time is spent on social media

We Are Social and Hootsuite have published the latest Global Digital Yearbook for 2019, showing how the world’s internet population has changed over the past 12 months.

The report draws data from several sources, including and research groups, including GlobalWebIndex, GSMA Intelligence, Statista, Locowise, App Annie, and SimilarWeb, to compile a comprehensive overview on digital trends and moves.

According to the report, mobile dominates as a channel across the globe, with 5.11 billion unique mobile users in the world today – up 100 million (2%) from January 2018.

There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9%) versus January 2018, and there are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9%) since this time last year.

Looking specifically at Southern Africa and South Africa, penetration rates are a mix of relatively low (51% for internet, and 38% for social media), to comparatively high (162% for mobile – over 100% due to dual SIMs and multiple connections).

South Africa is one of the countries covered in the report – with some key findings below:


More than half of South Africans are connected

South Africa has an internet penetration rate of 54%, according to the report, which represents a connected population of over 31 million people.

This is slightly higher than the 30.8 million internet users recorded the same time last year.


South Africans spend a lot of time online

According to the report, South Africans spend the 6th longest time online, connected for an average of 8 hours and 25 minutes each day, on any device.

This is far higher than the global average of 6 hours and 41 minutes – and not that far below the biggest internet addicts, the Philippines, who spend over 10 hours a day on average online.

Connecting via computers, South Africans are the world’s second biggest internet addicts, spending almost 5 hours a day, on average, glued to our screens.

Looking at mobile internet time, South Africans are also higher than the global average, spending 3 hours and 30 minutes each day connecting via mobile devices.


South Africa’s average internet speeds are below average – but higher than African peers

According to the report, South Africa’s average fixed-line internet speeds are at 18.3 mbps, which is some way below the global average of 54.3 mbps.

The world leader is Singapore, with an average speed at a blistering 190.9 mbps, while Egypt trails behind the countries measured, at 6.7 mbps.


Our mobile speeds are higher than the global average

South Africa’s average mobile speed is recorded at 25.5 mbps, just above the global average at 25.1 mbps.

Overall, mobile speeds don’t quote match up to fixed line just yet, with Canada recording the highest average at 65.1 mbps.


South Africans are on social media

Southern Africa has a relatively low social media penetration rate of 38% – though South Africa stands out as having a higher rate than its neighbours, with 40% of the population using social platforms.

This sits below the global average of 45%, but a 40% active user base means we have some 23 million people taking part of the conversation on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like.


5 million more South Africans are using social media than a year ago

According to the report, South Africa’s social media activity is also one of the fastest growing in the world, where the country ranked 17th for its relative growth (seeing a 28% increase in activity year-on-year) and tied for 9th for net growth, having added 5 million new users since January 2018.

This is on par with Nigeria and Mexico – though far below China, which added 100 million new users in the past year.


We spend more time on social media than average

South Africans also spend more time using social media platforms than the global average, with the report recording the average time spent at 2 hours and 48 minutes each day.

The average social media user, globally, spends 2 hours and 16 minutes on social platforms each day – with extreme users (Philippines) spending over 4 hours.

South Africans have 8 social media accounts on average.


We love WhatsApp

In a broader look at the most popular messaging or chat app in each country, South Africans’ usage patterns showed that WhatsApp was the top app.


We spend R1,200 a month shopping online

As part of the report, Hootsuite also looked at e-commerce and online shopping across the globe.

South Africa ranks quite low as an e-commerce nation, with the average revenue per user (ARPU) going towards consumer goods sitting at around $90 (R1,200) a month.

This is far lower than the global average of $634 (R8,400) a month.

One of the reasons for this is low penetration of online shopping habits, with only half (55%) of South Africa’s internet users actually making online purchases.

According to the report, online spending makes up only 1.5% of GDP per capita, and represents only 1% of total retail revenue in the country.


The full 2019 review can be read here.


Read: Mobile speeds now top Wi-Fi in South Africa

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South Africans spend over 8 hours a day online – and a third of that time is spent on social media