South Africa’s Exploding Internet

Received a press release from Nielsen//Netratings, who run the statistics and compiles readership of the major websites in the local Online Publisher’s Association. Whichever way you look at it, this is good news for the South African online industry as a whole, and is no doubt spurred on by the arrival of so many broadband options and the cutting of broadband costs. It’s about time. We have been lagging behind other countries, but now it appears we are starting to see the same online audience growth curves that other broadband countries have been experiencing recently.

According to Nielsen//NetRatings, South African Unique Browsers (readers) are up 120% over last two years; page impressions are up 129%. Nielsen//NetRatings is a global leader in Internet media and market research. The growth is also no doubt spurred on by new members joining the OPA and therefore coming onto the new stats system, but it is still an indication of organic growth, and online growth in general.

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The growing number of Unique Browsers and page impressions
• May 2007 saw 3.9 million active South African Unique Browsers – 121% more than in May 2005 (1.8 million)
• During the same period page impressions grew by 129% from 91 million in May 05 to 207 million in May 07

Alex Burmaster, Internet Analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings says, “In terms of the number of people using the Internet, the most developed markets in the northern hemisphere have seen a plateauing of growth over the last year or so. In contrast, South Africa has seen phenomenal expansion – growing by around 50% in each of the last two years. This type of growth is, of course, something we have seen across all markets as the Internet has taken hold and moves away from being a niche activity to a very mainstream form of media and an integral part of life.”

Who makes up the South African Internet Population?
• The Internet population is split 54% male (2.15 million people), 45% female (1.79 million people)
• At 1.42 million people, 25-34 year olds are the most dominant age group – accounting for 36% of the online
population – closely followed by 35-49 year olds (1.37 million: 35%)
• English is the most dominant language – being the language spoken primarily at home by around 2.10
million online South Africans (52% of the Internet population). Afrikaans follows at 1.11 million (28% of the
Internet population)

“The South African Internet population is much more concentrated around 25-49 year olds than other English speaking Internet nations. In South Africa this group makes up around seventy percent of the Internet population compared to less than fifty percent in the UK, around forty-five percent in Australia and forty percent in the US.

The majority of the Internet population speaks English and the vast majority of online content is English. Whilst the South African Internet is experiencing huge growth in this area, the opportunity for hyper-audience growth in the future lies in targeting African language speakers.”

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