Digital Statistics 2021 And Usage In South Africa

Digital Statistics 2021

2021. The magical marker to erase the pain of 2020, or is it just a continuation of the year that was? A lot can happen in a year. This time last year, the idea of a lockdown was so far from our minds, nevermind the consequences, adaptation, and grit required to survive. Many companies didn’t, but we’ve seen a noticeable shift in the way business is conducted.

We’ve been eagerly awaiting the Digital Statistics for 2021; the excellent collaborative effort between Hootsuite and We Are Social. This year’s 10th annual release speaks to many of the shifts in behaviour and the migration to a plethora of digital channels and uses. The 102-page report contains a treasure trove of insights backed by data in the form of digital usage patterns and digital statistics

Predictably we’ve seen a surge in eCommerce related activities, the total South African eCommerce basket grew by 24% Year-on-Year.

How 2021 has begun and what can we look forward to?

The global report indicates that internet usage has remained relatively consistent at 4.66 Billion users (2020: 4.5B). That means that 59% of the world’s population are now using and communicating through the internet. 53% of the world’s population are now active on social media, a 13% increase year-on-year. Internet users (the base has been adjusted to exclude social media) have grown 7.3% year-on-year. Unsurprising, given the nature of the South African 2020 lockdown.

Ecommerce activities are also showing strong growth globally, with 81% of internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 searching online for a product or service to buy off any device.

Back home in South Africa, the numbers the digital statics are staggering. Out of our population of just under 60 million, just over 38 million people are currently using the internet. The number of mobile phone connections: 100 Million (down by 3 million in 2020) or 1.68 per person, one of the highest ratios in the world. This probably speaks to the number of devices, dongles, and second cellphone numbers.

Some pertinent digital statistics

Social media users still show a relatively low penetration (42%) when compared to the rest of the world. The average internet user between the age of 16 and 64 spends just over 3 and a half hours using social media. Almost the same amount as what’s spent on watching TV (4 hours).

Data usage, and in particular video consumption, shows the most growth. We attribute this to falling data costs, faster internet speeds (+24% in mobile and 42% in fixed lines), greater internet penetration and better infrastructure. According to the July 2020 article by Visual Capitalist showing a graphical representation of the cost of data worldwide, South Africans pay about half of what the United States pays per GB of data.  98% of all South African internet users now consume some form of video content each month!

60% of internet users now use Social Media as the main source when researching brands. The top 5 most used social media channels in South Africa are WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

Some other valuable insights include our relatively low online search to purchase percentage when compared with the rest of the world (57% vs. 76%). The most frequented websites and searches also make interesting reading.  Online food ordering increased by 35% year on year against the backdrop of the lockdown.

Have a look at the report below and contact us if you found this useful and would like to know more.

Also look out for our Digital Statistics report for 2022