12 Things You Didn’t Know About How Africans Use The Internet
Understanding how Africans use the internet remains the subject of many research studies, with new data emerging regarding stats and trends.
The continent is becoming an important market for numerous internet-based businesses, while social media platforms are attracting more African users than ever before.
With faster internet speeds and a growing appetite for connectivity on the continent, online trends are changing and the internet is shaping the way Africans work and play.
Here are the 12 things you didn’t know about how Africans use the internet.
Low penetration but growing
Of the 1.2 billion people on the African continent, approximately 362 million use the internet in some way. That works out to a 29 percent internet penetration rate, which is less than other parts of the world, but recent growth is positive at an increase of four percent since January 2016.
Mobile is king
With 81 percent of the total African population using a mobile device, it makes sense that the vast majority of internet traffic from Africa is accessed via mobile devices as opposed to a computer or tablet. The latest figures in Nigeria confirm that around 91 percent of Nigerian internet traffic is accessed via mobile, and many other African countries follow a similar pattern.
Social media is popular in Africa
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are consistently attracting African users, with 170 million active social media users already on numerous platforms, while there has been annual growth of over 47 percent in African social media users over the last couple of years.
Biggest data users
In a study conducted by Opera, it was determined that Ghanaians, Kenyans, Seychellois and Mauritians are the highest data users on the continent with an average usage of over 160MB/month.
Free WiFi is a growing trend
Internet access is considered a basic right, but access to that right remains limited in Africa. One of the major trends that is changing this, however, is the increasing availability of free WiFi in public places throughout Africa, with more and more transport hubs, shops, restaurants and other areas where people gather enabled with free WiFi.
South Africans spend more time online than most
In terms of the average amount of time spent on the internet each day, South Africans spend almost five hours on desktop and three hours on mobile each day, ranking eighth among countries globally in terms of time spent, and the highest ranked in Africa.
Sports fans love the internet
The internet is used for many purposes in Africa, but one of the major attractions for Africans to spend time online is to keep updated on sports events. Whether following the latest news or getting live sports commentary and stats, using the internet to access sports content is popular in Africa.
Data over voice calls and texts
Mobile penetration in Africa is high, with many Africans using smartphones. These people often use their phones to access the internet, relying on being connected to make calls and send messages via apps such as WhatsApp instead of voice calls or texts, relying on their internet data rather than mobile networks to communicate with friends and family.
App development gaining momentum
The proliferation of smartphones across Africa, combined with increases in internet access and speeds, has been the ideal breeding ground for apps to be used and developed within African countries, as local developers aim to make apps to cater for the needs of their fellow Africans.
Faster speeds and YouTube personalities
As internet speeds on the continent have continued to improve, YouTube has become increasingly popular, giving rise to numerous YouTube personalities from Africa such as South Africa’s Caspar Lee, Tameen Youness in Egypt and Nigeria’s Ikenna Azuike.
Video streaming on the rise
Another of the developments that come with faster internet speeds is video-on-demand, and with a growing middle class across the continent, more consumers are giving the likes of Netflix, Showmax and iflix reason to fight for market share. Visits to streaming video websites on Opera Mini in Africa have increased by 36 percent since 2012.
Nigeria has the most internet users
As Africa’s most populous nation, with around 182 million people in the country, Nigeria is the African state with the highest number of internet users on the continent, with 91.88 million people connected to the web, or around half of the population.
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