4 stats that show how South Africa’s digital adoption rates are growing ahead of global trends

eNitiate | Global Digital 2020 Report | Digital Adoption Rates | Feature Banner | 27 Mar 2020

In October 2019, I published a blog detailing the 13 stats about South Africa’s digital trends versus a minimum of 42 other countries in the world – including the US, China and Japan. 

The data for the blog was extracted from the Global Digital 2019 Report. 

I am pleased that the effort put into the blog continues to be handsomely rewarded by Google organic search traffic – eNitiate Website’s main traffic source, as shown by the latest top 10 most viewed blog posts for the last year to 27 March 2020. 

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A Position of The “13 ZA Stats” Post in The Top 10 Most Viewed Posts

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Views Contributed By The “13 ZA Stats” Post, Out of Every 100 Views By The Top 10 Posts

In this blog,

…I selected 4 of the 13 stats quoted in the blog referred to above, and I analyse their performance over a 2-year period to show how Mzansi‘s digital adoption rates have grown ahead of the global trends. 

This blog is the fourth in a series based on the data from the Global Digital 2020 Report.

But first, let me set the context.

Here are the overall growth indicators for South Africa's digital adoption rates:

Graph 1 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report

The digital growth indicators in Graph 1 show that South Africa’s digital adoption rates are on a positive trajectory. Notably, the growth of social media adoption is impressive. The global growth of social media adoption for the same period was 9.2%.

The two graphs below show that time spent on digital media in South Africa has increased.

eNitiate | Global Digital 2020 Report | Daily Time Spent with Media | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 2 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report
eNitiate | Global Digital 2019 Report | Daily Time Spent with Media | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 3 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report

As the stats in Graphs 2 and 3 show, South Africans spend more time on the Internet and on social media than the year before. 

Now that the context has been set, the rest of this blog will demonstrate how South Africa’s digital adoption rates are growing ahead of the global trends.

The 4 stats that will be analysed are:

  1. Time spent on the Internet
  2. Time spent on mobile Internet
  3. Time spent on social media
  4. Use of social media for work

The format for analysing South Africa’s digital adoption rates is going to be based on comparing where the country is positioned versus other top 42 countries countries in the world for 2020 and 2019, for each of the 4 stats under the review.  

So, let’s go.

1. Daily time spent on the Internet increased.

eNitiate | Global Digital 2020 Report | Time Spent On Internet | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 4 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report
eNitiate | Global Digital 2019 Report | Time Spent On Internet | 26 Mar 2019
Graph 5 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report

Finding:

  • South Africa’s daily time spent on the Internet increased by 57 seconds, resulting in the jump from position 6 to position 2 in the top 43 countries over the two years. The worldwide average increased by only 1 second (compare the White bar in graphs 4 and 5).

In 2020, 6 in 10 South Africans have access to the Internet, and they spend 3/8 of each 24hr day online. With data costs falling based on the latest Competition Commission agreements with Vodacom and MTN, is this going to accelerate?

I am looking forward to analysing if there has been a marked shift in Internet usage, in good time.

2. Daily time spent on mobile Internet increased.

eNitiate | Global Digital 2020 Report | Time Spent On Mobile Internet | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 6 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report
eNitiate | Global Digital 2019 Report | Time Spent On Mobile Internet | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 7 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report

Finding:

  • South Africa moved 6 places to position 11 in the use of mobile for Internet access over the last two years, with an increase of 43 seconds. The increase in the global average was 6 seconds.

In South Africa’s case, there is a lag in the time spent on Internet in total (9H22Min), compared to time spent on mobile Internet (4H13Min). This lag is to be watched with interest given the point about falling data costs. 

Despite the lag, Mzansi’s adoption rates are still higher when compared to the worldwide averages for both the Internet and mobile Internet.

3. Time spent on social media

eNitiate | Global Digital 2020 Report | Time Spent on Social Media | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 8 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report
eNitiate | Global Digital 2019 Report | Time Spent on Social Media | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 9 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report

Finding:

  • South Africa moved 5 places to position 9 in the top 43 countries in the world, with a 22 second increase in time spent on social media. The worldwide average increase was 8 seconds.

South Africans spend 1 of every 3 Internet minutes on social media. This stat is to be read together with the last on below.

4. Use of social media for work

eNitiate | Global Digital 2020 Report | Use of Social Media for Work | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 10 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report
eNitiate | Global Digital 2019 Report | Use of Social Media for Work | 26 Mar 2020
Graph 11 | Source: Global Digital 2020 Report

Finding:

  • South Africa moved 2 places to position 3 in the top 43 countries in the world. The number of people who use social media for work has almost doubled to 61%. The worldwide average has also almost doubled to 43%. 

Given that South Africans spend 3hrs of every day on social media, it is pleasing to see that the bulk of them use some of the time on work-related activities.

This is something I can relate to, as I personally spend most of my time on social media for work. As an example, increasingly my Whatsapp time is spent networking, broadcasting blogs, and chatting to suppliers, business prospects and clients.

See my iPhone screen time snap shots for the last 7 days below:

Bra Willy Seyama's iPhone | Screen Time | All-Devices| Last 7 Days | 28 Mar 2020.jpg
Bra Willy Seyama's iPhone | Screen Time | Most Used | Last 7 Days | 28 Mar 2020.jpg
Bra Willy Seyama's iPhone | Screen Time | Pickups | Last 7 Days | 28 Mar 2020.jpg

What does this all mean in the context of South Africa's 21-day coronavirus lockdown that came into effect at midnight last night?

Are the 4 stats in this blog giving hope that remote working during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown will be the answer for the South African economy?

Here are practical reasons to consider:

  • We still have 4 out of every 10 South Africans without access to the Internet.
  • Even in the case of the 6 in 10 who have the access, some of it is through places of work.
  • In addition, not all South Africans who have the access can always afford data, especially now that some are not going to be able to earn an income during the lock down.
  • What’s more, the digital economy, which lends itself to being favourable for remote working possibilities, is estimated at only 20% of South Africa’s GDP. A damper is that this type of economy is not labour intensive by its very nature. As a result, the two factors do not paint a rosy picture.

Yes, some South Africans will be able to work remotely, including myself 😎. But clearly this number will not be large enough to carry the economy of the country.

All this means the writing is on the wall – there are serious headwinds ahead. We must all brace ourselves for the tough times post the lockdown.

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