For the first time in five years, the growth of Internet usage in South Africa is slowing down significantly, according to a report by Media Africa.
The third edition of the South African Internet Services Industry Survey found that growth in the number of South African Internet
subscribers fell below the 100 percent mark in 1998, to 86 percent. Last year marked the first time since the Internet first became commercially available in 1994 that the user base did not double in South Africa.
According to the survey, there were 1,266,000 Internet users in South Africa at the end of 1998. This figure includes dial-up subscribers, corporate users getting access through work, and those gaining access through academic institutions.
By the end of 1999, Media Africa predicts the online population of South Africa will jump to 1.8 million, bringing growth of the total market this year down to 50 percent.
“While we are seeing dramatic user numbers, the reality is that this year will see the lowest proportionate growth in the Internet user base yet,” said Arthur Goldstruck, managing director of Media Africa.
“Of course, that does not take away from the sheer number of new users coming online this year: in the dial-up market alone, we can expect
at least 22,000 new subscribers. It is this new market that all of the ISPs are fighting for in their huge marketing campaigns.”
The number of dial-up subscribers in South Africa at the end of 1998 was measured at 366,235. Media Africa’s prediction for the number of dial-up
subscribers at the end of 1999 is a little more than 558,000.
At least 20 ISPs operating in South Africa have a customer base of more than 1,000 dial-up customers, according to Media Africa.