The number of internet users worldwide grows every day. The online world is already a big place, and it’s only going to continue to grow. Right now, about a third (35%) of the world’s total population has access to an internet connection – that’s about 2.5 billion people.

The country with the highest internet penetration – the percentage of the total population online – is the United Kingdom, where 87% of the population has access to the internet. That 87% is equivalent to 54 million people. That’s more than the total population of South Africa. South Africa isn’t exactly an internet dead-zone either though.

 South Africa Online

We rank as the third highest African nation for total internet users, behind Nigeria and Egypt. With over 20 million people out of our 51 million having access to the internet, our penetration percentage is 41%.

Though we have less people online than Nigeria does, (with 55 million people online), their penetration only works out at 33%, considering that their population is so much larger than ours, with 168 million people in the country.

And South Africans spend a lot of time online. The average South African with an internet connection will spend about 5.6 hours per day online from a desktop or laptop computer, and 2.5 hours a day accessing the internet from a mobile device.

The only country that spends more time online than we do is Brazil, where the average person will spend over 6 hours online every day. Strangely, Germany, Japan, and South Korea are the countries that spend the least time on the internet each day, even though they have some of the highest penetration percentages.

 South Africa & Social Media

If we look at the percentages for social media penetration – the percentage of the total population who have social media accounts – South Africa is below the global average. Only 20% of our country’s total population use social media. Not surprisingly, Facebook is our biggest networking site. We have over 9 million local users, but that’s only 40% of our total internet users.

Even though less than half of South Africa’s online population use Facebook, we still spend more time on it than most other countries. The average South African will spend 3 hours every day on social media.

This is well above the global average of 2 hours per day. So, even though less South Africans use social networking sites, we still spend a fair amount of our time on them.

The world’s online population is growing all the time because the internet is becoming more and more easy to access, and SA is leading the way for internet users in Africa.

The internet can be a powerful tool for social development, education and economic growth, and used correctly, having more people online can help make South Africa a better place for everybody.