Nearly 60% of South Africans now have access to the internet

An annual report released by We Are Social and Hootsuite reveals the number of South Africans who have access to the internet and other technology.

Picture: iStock.

JOHANNESBURG - The number of internet users as a percentage of the total population in South Africa is nearing 60%.

This is according to the Digital in 2018 report by global digital agency, We Are Social and social media management platform, HootSuite.

In January 2018, internet penetration was recorded at 54% (30.8 million South Africans), up 2% from 52% in January 2017. A total of 29.2 million of the population (51%) access the internet on their mobiles.

"Well over half of the world’s population is now online, with the latest data showing that nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Africa has seen the fastest growth rates, with the number of internet users across the continent increasing by more than 20% year-on-year," says We Are Social.

"Much of this year’s growth in internet users has been driven by more affordable smartphones and mobile data plans."


Thirty-two percent of South Africans (18 million) are active social media users, up from 24% (13 million) in 2017.

WhatsApp has overtaken Facebook as the most popular social media platform in the country. In 2017 it was third after YouTube in second place.

Almost 50% of South Africans use the instant messaging service, while Facebook slides down to second place, pushing YouTube to third.

Multimedia content sharing service Instagram has grown to 3.9 million (7%) users in South Africa in 2018, ranking it the fifth most popular social media platform.

Thirty-eight million South Africans (67%) own a mobile phone, regardless of the type (dumb, feature or smartphone).


Increases have also been recorded across the globe. The combined number of internet users in 2018 is four billion, up 7% from last year.

The number of social media users stands at 3.1 billion, up 13% and mobile phone users stand at 5.1 billion, up 4% from 2017.