Dear Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services.
When I first crafted the title for this eNsight, the relevant part read “have you been watching these digital trends?”.
But I felt the word “watching” was too soft, and I replaced it with “analysing”.
Even the replacement word does not feel strong enough for me, but it does a better job than just watching.
Contents of this eNsight will make it clear why I am addressing you directly, and why I debated the use of the appropriate action word in my title.
Table of Contents
The latest Global Digital Report is out
We Are Social‘s Global Digital Report that was published in July 2020 is important for understanding the latest comparative digital media consumption trends, given that most of the COVID-19 lockdowns across the world have been in place since March 2020.
The South African government, the country’s businesses and practitioners in the digital value chain should know by now that many of the world’s citizens were driven online by the lockdowns.
The latest digital report gives an idea of the growths, what consumers have been doing online, and what is likely to happen going forward.
South Africa stands to gain from current digital media consumption trends
Countries such as South Africa that have been on a positive digital trajectory should be closely analysing these trends and adjusting policies and brand strategies accordingly.
Analysis of digital trends MUST be happening at all spheres in Mzansi, from government departments and SOE’s, to all other organisations that are doing any form of business, including the non-profits.
However, South Africa has become synonymous with inaction
South Africa’s digital rankings have been impressive, but it is my belief that the country has suffered from inertia, and missed opportunities to move miles in the digital technology space.
It is starting to feel like this is happening once too often.
Unfortunately, the government has played a role in the missing of the opportunities.
But the optimist in me also believes it is not all lost.
Ms Ndabeni-Abrahams, I don’t plan to harp on the missed opportunities in this eNsight, but rather share stats that you should be paying close attention to.
Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams: you have an opportunity to create your legacy
Ms Ndabeni-Abrahams, I don’t plan to harp on the missed opportunities in this eNsight, but rather share stats that you should be using to create your own legacy through robust digital media policy formulation that will unleash the power of digital for the country as a whole.
South Africa is leading the continent and is among the top countries on key digital media trends
1. 1 in 2 South Africans are on social media
Minister Ndabeni-Abraham, the first stat clearly indicates that there is a substantial section of the South African population who are 13 years and above and who are consuming digital media.
The next stat drives this point home.
2. South Africa has an equal gender split of social media users
This second stat is important, as it shows that the challenge of the gender-based digital media divide, as represented by social media, is not South Africa’s problem.
Thus, this channel can be used effectively to drive gender-based initiatives.
3. South Africa ranks in the top 3 countries in the world for increased use of social media during COVID-19
The importance of social media as a communication channel in South Africa has to be seen in the context of the whole world.
Graph 3 says it all.
More importantly, this channel is key for COVID-19 communications in light of the massive miss- and dis-information bouts that this pandemic has encountered on this very channel.
When looking at South Africa’s ranking for social media as a source of news, yet again the country stands out.
4. The lockdown-induced work from home trend is here to stay
As graph 5 shows, 2 in 5 South Africans would like the option to work from home more frequently as a permanent arrangement.
With 3 out of 5 South Africans able to access the Internet, the key implications from the finding in graph 5 include the increased access to the internet, increased speeds (from 4G to 5G) and affordability.
Here are global mobile internet connection speed rankings:
Unfortunately, South Africa’s mobile internet connection speeds lag behind the global average, as shown by the country’s ranking in graph 6.
As you know, many South Africans have access to internet-enabled mobile phones, and cost of mobile data has been a huge bone of contention.
Internet speeds affect cost, which has impact on use, and in turn will affect productivity.
Your office holds the key to unlocking this bottleneck, Minister Ndabeni-Abraham.
The current logjam related to increased availability of the digital spectrum needs even more attention.
The migration of tv signal to digital is the answer.
The continued delays cannot be allowed to persist.
The preference for global benchmarks
Minister, I deliberately pulled out the global rankings to make the case for your office to really pay close attention.
To emphasize, the stats shared in this eNsight were extracted from the Global Digital Report – a free publication that goes back several years, in case you are interested in South Africa’s global rankings across key metrics overtime.
My offer to you, Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams
I am making an offer to avail myself in case you want assistance in the analysis of digital media consumption trends and recommendations.
My condition though is that we stop this malignant habit of talk shops.
We have had an overdose of these, and for far too long.
South Africa sorely needs action, and stats in this eNsight provide a good basis to get going.