The latest Global Digital Report for 2023, published by We Are Social and Maltwater, sheds light on the world’s internet population changes over the past year. According to BusinessTech, the Global Digital Report offers a comprehensive overview of digital trends by drawing on data from several sources, including GlobalWebIndex, GSMA Intelligence, and Statista. And the report says that South Africans are the biggest internet addicts in the world.
Mobile dominates as a channel worldwide, with 5.44 billion unique mobile users – up by 168 million (3.2%) since January 2022. In 2023, there are 5.16 billion internet users, an increase of 98 million (1.9%) compared to January 2022. In addition, the number of social media users has also grown, reaching 4.76 billion, with the worldwide total increasing by 137 million (3%) over the past year.
When looking at Southern Africa and South Africa, internet penetration rates vary from relatively low (72% for internet and 2.9% for social media) to relatively high (187.4% for mobile) compared to global rates. The report revealed that South Africans are the biggest internet addicts in the world – spending an average of 9 hours and 38 minutes daily on any device. They are also the most significant users of computers, spending an average of just under four and a half hours a day on screens. Mobile internet time is also higher than the global average, with South Africans spending 5 hours and 13 minutes daily connecting via mobile devices.
According to the report, South Africa’s average fixed-line internet speeds are below the global average at 40.12 Mbps. However, they are higher than other African countries, with Egypt being the only African country to beat South Africa, recording speeds of 45.79 Mbps. On the other hand, South Africa’s average mobile speed is higher than the global average, at 36.70 Mbps.
The report also reveals that South Africans spend more time using social media platforms than the global average. On average, South Africans spend 3 hours and 44 minutes daily on social media and have 7.8 social media accounts. WhatsApp is the most popular social media app in the country.
Regarding e-commerce and online shopping, South Africa ranks low as an e-commerce nation, with an average annual revenue per user of around $258 (R4,717). Less than half of South Africa’s internet users (47.7%) make online purchases, and online spending makes up only 1.72% of GDP per capita and represents 3.82% of total retail revenue in the country. The most money spent online in the country is on electronics, toys, hobbies, DIY, furniture, and fashion annually.