The South African Internet-user population passed the 20-million mark for the first time last year, reaching 21 million, and is expected to grow to at least 22,5 million users this year.

The Internet Access in South Africa 2017 study, released recently by World Wide Worx, shows that South Africa will reach the 40% Internet penetration mark this year.

"Reaching the point at which we can say every second adult South African is connected to the Internet is a major landmark because Internet access is becoming synonymous with economic access," said Reshaad Sha, chief strategy officer and executive director of Dark Fibre Africa, a fibre connectivity provider that supported the study.

The results contrast with a United Nations report last year, which found that almost 75% of people in Africa were "non-users''.

The report reveals that the single most common use of the Internet among South African adults was for communication (31%), followed by social networking (24,9%), information (23,7%) and entertainment at 22,1%.

E-mail is reported by only 16% of respondents, "indicating that it is becoming a less important element of the communications mix as social media becomes a default channel", the report said.

Shopping and finance were cited by only 15% of respondents, confirming previous World Wide Worx research that showed e-commerce was still not a major element of South African retail in general.

"The findings emphasise the potential of the Internet to enhance lives when we have greater penetration across all segments and demographics," said Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. "Over time, we will see higher proportions of people engaging in a wider range of activity, but the barriers to more active use will first have to come down."  V Source: www.timeslive.co.za