South Africa is one of the fastest growing markets for mobile and internet usage is also growing rapidly. A history of poor international bandwidth / connectivity has meant speeds have remained slow.

South Africa’s internet users grew from 4.6 million to 5.3 million last year, a rise of 15%, according to research by World Wide Worx, a technology and research and strategy organisation, sponsored by Cisco.

The climb follows years of stagnation between 2002 to 2007, when internet penetration in South Africa never rose above 7%. But the rate almost doubled in 2008, and continued accelerating in 2009.

World Wide Worx said the growth had been driven by regulatory changes enabling small internet providers to enter the market with more competitive packages. It cited the granting of electronic communications network service licences to more than 400 organisations.

“This meant that service providers that were previously required to buy their network access from one of the major providers could now build their own networks or choose where they wanted to buy their access,” it said.

The Internet Access in South Africa 2010 study found that growth had been spurred by small and medium businesses upgrading from dial-up to broadband connections. In doing so, they extended internet access to general office staff, adding up to 20 new users each.

The laying of the $600m (£368m) Seacom undersea cable linking the South African coast with Europe is expected to increase the number of connections and make them faster.

South Africa ranks fourth in Africa for total internet connections behind Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco, according to Internet World Stats.

Figures from last September showed penetration in Africa at 6.8%, the lowest of any region in the world, despite growth of 1,392% in the past decade. North America stood at 74.2%, Australasia at 60.4%, Europe at 52%, Latin America at 30.5%, the Middle East at 28.3% and Asia at 19.4%.

source: The Guardian

Tags: Internet, South Africa

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Damien Saunders
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