Johannesburg - Internet penetration in South Africa, the
continent's economic powerhouse, is low compared to other leading economies in
Africa due to high broadband cost and a lack of infrastructure, a study said
According to the study commissioned by Google South Africa,
the country had 8.5 million internet users in 2011, compared to 6.8 million
people in 2010.
"This growth brings internet penetration in South
Africa to approximately 17%," said the report.
"Despite rapid growth, however, it lags significantly
behind the biggest internet user bases in Africa".
Oil-rich Nigeria, which is also Africa's most populous
nation, has the highest internet penetration at 29%, followed by Egypt, Morocco
Growth in South Africa, the continent's largest economy was
attributed to the propagation of smartphones to access the internet, which took
off in 2008.
"It should also be borne in mind that access and cost
remains the biggest obstable to internet connectivity, particularly in less
developed areas," said Luke Mckend, Google SA country manager.
This year's arrival of an undersea fibre-optic cable, which
connects large parts of Africa with the world was expected to improve broadband
connectivity across the continent.
The cable has landing points in 10 other countries along
Africa's western coast and its arrival promises an Internet boost for Africa,
where only 9.6% of people are web users, compared to 65% of Europeans.