‘Going online is simply not an option’

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About 88 percent of people who had internet access used their cellphones.

Johannesburg - Most South Africans – three out of five – do not have internet access.

Of those who do, about 34 percent of the population, most use their cellphones to go online, a survey by independent market research company Ipsos has found.

The findings showed young people were more likely to use the internet than those in older age groups.

The researchers noted that 70 percent of the white population had internet access, compared with 43 percent of the Indian population, 36 percent of the coloured population and 29 percent of the black population.

About 88 percent of people who had internet access used their cellphones, 22 percent had access at home, 17 percent used the internet at work and 11 percent visited public places, including internet cafés, to go online.

“The fact that cellphones are predominantly used to get online highlights a big reason for the large percentage not accessing the internet,” said Ipsos’s Mari Harris. “For the many millions who do not have smartphones or the budget to buy data, going online is simply not an option.”

Asked which social media platform they accessed, the majority of South Africans – 88 percent – said they used Facebook. One in five South Africans with internet access used messaging service WhatsApp, 23 percent used Twitter and 12 percent YouTube.

Harris noted that young people who were more likely to use the messaging application Mxit had not been included in the survey.

The majority of Facebook users accessed the social network once or twice a day, with 8 percent of users visiting it four times each day.

Less than one percent of Facebook users visited the site more than 12 times a day.

About one in four Facebook users said they spent about 30 minutes a day browsing the site, while 13 percent stayed for 10 minutes.

These findings were similar to those of the 2011 national census by Statistics South Africa, which showed that 65 percent of households had no access to the internet.

Of the households that did have access to the internet, 16 percent accessed it through cellphones, 9 percent at home, 5 percent at work and 6 percent by other means.

The findings of the Statistics South Africa General Household Survey 2012, released last year, showed that 20 percent of Western Cape households had internet access, while only 15 percent of Gauteng homes were able to connect. Those who lived in North West and Limpopo had the lowest access to the internet – 3.5 percent and 2.7 percent.

The SA Social Media Landscape 2014 study revealed that “Facebook has 9.4 million active users in South Africa, up from 6.8 million users a year ago”.

The study, carried out by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, also pointed to the prevalence of users accessing the internet on their cellphones. - The Star

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