SA's Internet Users Soar to 1,82 Million
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[Johannesburg, 24 May 2000] - The annual "State of the South African Internet Industry" address was delivered yesterday to the media on the opening day of the Computer Faire in Midrand, north of Johannesburg by Acuity Media Africa.The findings, released as part of the 4th South African Internet Services Industry Survey, provided a number of interesting Web demographics, such as the size of the local market and its growth prospects. Key amongst the findings is the fact that Internet users in this country now total 1,82-million, up by over half-a-million users from the figures released a year ago. The survey detailed trends for 1999, revealing that the Internet appeared to have reached a critical mass of consumers by the end of 1998. For the first time since the inception of the Internet in South Africa, growth slowed to under a 100%, and the Survey predicted that this trend will continue, with the user base expected to increase by a third during this year.
The survey attributed this to strong ISP marketing campaigns in 1997 and 1998, the strong international growth of the medium and the fact that a critical mass has now been reached. Divided into three categories, dial-up users, academic users and corporate users, the trends in each category makes for interesting reading. The dial-up market grew by 53% (or 194,000 users) during 1999, reaching a total of 560,000 users.
The growth rate of 53% is substantially down from the 1998 figures which showed an 86% growth and growth in dial-up's for this year is only expected to amount to 40%, bolstering the size of this group to 782,000
Media Africa expects this slowing down of growth to continue at least until competition for the national telecoms provider, Telkom, is appointed in 2003. The continued growth of the Internet and e-commerce in this country should be incentive enough to ensure the deregulation process is a speedy one. Should this take place, dial-up users are expected to amount to 1,560,000 by the end of 2003. On the corporate internet side, growth of over 40% was reported last year for users obtaining access through company networks. Digital leased lines increased from 3,500 in 1998 to 4,900 last year, which effectively indicates that there are over 980,000 corporate users in this country. Again Telkom were cited as culpable in the slowing down of growth among corporate users as delays in installing Internet-enabling infrastructure accounted for sluggish growth.
It is for this reason that Media Africa expects corporate growth to fall below 30% for this year, pointing to a total of 1,274,000 corporate users by the end of 2000. On the academic side, 1999 was a watershed year. Improved privately-funded connectivity in schools meant that in addition to the 250,000 students serviced by the Uninet academic network, 30,000 scholars made use of the Web for academic purposes. The 280,000 students using the Web in 1999 is expected to grow to about 360,000 by the end of this year. All in all, Media Africa estimated that the local market which currently sits at 1,820,000 users is expected to grow to 2,4-million users by the end of