Only a third of South Africa online


The census results released on Tuesday show South Africa has a great deal of work ahead if it is to achieve government’s goal of universal broadband access by 2020. Almost two-thirds (64,8%) of South African households have no access to the Internet. Of the 35,2% that do have Internet access, 46,3% get online using a mobile phone. Only 8.6% of households have access to the Internet at home. Statistics SA released the information as part of the publication of the 2011 census results on Tuesday. It must be borne in mind that the data is at least a year out of date.

Although mobile phones and home connections are the most common ways to get online, 4.7% of South African households have Internet access at a place of work and 5.6% have access from “elsewhere”, which includes using Internet cafes and making use of the connections of friends and family.

Most (88.9%) households have access to a mobile phone, but only 14.5% have a fixed line, which explains why cellular connections are the most popular means of accessing the Internet.

Despite the low fixed-line penetration, 25.8% of households have satellite TV and 59.3% have a DVD player. Almost three quarters, or 74.5%, of households have a television and 67.5% have a radio.

Only 21.4% of households have a computer which, when combined with low landline penetration (14,5%), shows that government has its work cut out for it. It is, however, encouraging that the percentage of households with computers has increased substantially, from 8,5% in 2001 to 21.4% in 2011.

Another obstacle to ubiquitous broadband is that, while cellphone ownership has increased significantly — from 31.9% in 2001 to 88.9% in 2011 — the proportion of households using fixed lines has dropped from 23.9% in 2001 to 14.5% in 2011.

TV remains popular with 74.5% of South African households owning one, up from 52,6% in 2001. Radio showed a small decline, dropping from 72.1% a decade ago to 67.5% in 2011