Source: datareportal.com

https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2023-south-africa

This page contains all the latest data, insights, and trends you need to help you understand how people in South Africa use digital devices and services in 2023.

If you want to check whether this is our most up-to-date report on South Africa, or if you’re looking for data on digital trends and behaviours in South Africa for previous years, you can find our full collection of reports on South Africa by clicking here.

You’ll also find the complete Digital 2023 report on South Africa in the “full report” section below, but let’s start by taking a look at the key numbers for South Africa this year.

The state of digital in South Africa in 2023

Here are the essential headlines for digital adoption and use in South Africa in early 2023:

  • There were 43.48 million internet users in South Africa at the start of 2023, when internet penetration stood at 72.3 percent.
  • South Africa was home to 25.80 million social media users in January 2023, equating to 42.9 percent of the total population.
  • A total of 112.7 million cellular mobile connections were active in South Africa in early 2023, with this figure equivalent to 187.4 percent of the total population.

These headline stats offer a great overview of the “state of digital” in South Africa, but in order to make sense of how digital trends and behaviours are evolving, we need to dig deeper into the data.

Let’s take a closer look at what the latest numbers tell us, starting with some valuable context relating to South Africa’s population.

South Africa’s population in 2023

South Africa’s total population was 60.14 million in January 2023.

Data shows that South Africa’s population increased by 494 thousand (+0.8 percent) between 2022 and 2023.

51.3 percent of South Africa’s population is female, while 48.7 percent of the population is male.

At the start of 2023, 68.6 percent of South Africa’s population lived in urban centres, while 31.4 percent lived in rural areas.

Note: gender data are currently only available for “female” and “male”.

South Africa’s population by age

The median age of South Africa’s population is 27.5.

Here’s how South Africa’s total population breaks down by age group:

  • 9.6 percent is between the ages of 0 and 4.
  • 15.1 percent is between the ages of 5 and 12.
  • 8.9 percent is between the ages of 13 and 17.
  • 10.6 percent is between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • 17.9 percent is between the ages of 25 and 34.
  • 15.3 percent is between the ages of 35 and 44.
  • 9.6 percent is between the ages of 45 and 54.
  • 7.2 percent is between the ages of 55 and 64.
  • 5.9 percent is aged 65 and above.

Note: percentages may not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.

Internet use in South Africa in 2023

There were 43.48 million internet users in South Africa in January 2023.

South Africa’s internet penetration rate stood at 72.3 percent of the total population at the start of 2023.

Kepios analysis indicates that internet users in South Africa increased by 357 thousand (+0.8 percent) between 2022 and 2023.

For perspective, these user figures reveal that 16.66 million people in South Africa did not use the internet at the start of 2023, suggesting that 27.7 percent of the population remained offline at the beginning of the year.

However, complexities associated with the collection and analysis of internet user data mean that it can often take several months before research is ready for publication. As a result, the latest published figures for internet use invariably under-represent reality, and actual adoption and growth may be higher than the figures shown here suggest. Please see our comprehensive notes on data for further details.

Dig deeper: for the latest insights into internet adoption and use around the world, follow our regular Global Statshot reports.

Go global: see how South Africa’s current “state of digital” compares with connectivity in other countries by reading our flagship Digital 2023 Global Overview Report, which includes hundreds of slides of global digital data, and our in-depth analysis of what these numbers might mean for you.

Internet connection speeds in South Africa in 2023

Data published by Ookla indicate that internet users in South Africa could have expected the following internet connection speeds at the start of 2023:

  • Median mobile internet connection speed via cellular networks: 36.70 Mbps.
  • Median fixed internet connection speed: 40.12 Mbps.

Ookla’s data reveals that the median mobile internet connection speed in South Africa increased by 6.18 Mbps (+20.2 percent) in the twelve months to the start of 2023.

Meanwhile, Ookla’s data shows that fixed internet connection speeds in South Africa increased by 10.39 Mbps (+34.9 percent) during the same period.

Social media statistics for South Africa in 2023

There were 25.80 million social media users in South Africa in January 2023.

This figure might seem quite different to the values that we published in previous years, but please note that the sources we use to inform and calculate our social media user numbers have made important and wide-ranging revisions to their data over recent months.

These adjustments to source data mean that our latest numbers are not comparable with equivalent figures that we published in previous years, and readers should not regard any differences in these numbers as an actual change in social media use.

Indeed, our analysis of various data points from trusted third parties such as GWI and data.ai shows that there has been no discernible drop in overall social media use, and in almost all countries, social media use continues to increase.

As a result, readers should view any such differences as “corrections” in the data, and not as an indication that social media adoption has declined.

The number of social media users in South Africa at the start of 2023 was equivalent to 42.9 percent of the total population, but it’s also important to note that social media users may not represent unique individuals (see our detailed notes on data to learn why).

Meanwhile, data published in the ad planning tools of top social media platforms indicates that there were 22.75 million users aged 18 and above using social media in South Africa at the start of 2023, which was equivalent to 57.0 percent of the total population aged 18 and above at that time.

More broadly, 59.3 percent of South Africa’s total internet user base (regardless of age) used at least one social media platform in January 2023.

At that time, 51.1 percent of South Africa’s social media users were female, while 48.9 percent were male.

Note: due to significant revisions in source data, we regret that we’re currently unable to provide reliable figures for the year-on-year change in social media users in South Africa. We recommend that readers do not compare our latest figures for social media use with figures published in our previous reports, because such comparisons will deliver inaccurate results.

Get fresh insights: our handy social media overview page helps you stay up to date with social media trends, offering essential headlines for social media adoption, as well as the latest user figures for the world’s most widely used social media platforms.

Facebook users in South Africa in 2023

Data published in Meta’s advertising resources indicates that Facebook had 22.15 million users in South Africa in early 2023.

However, Meta has made important changes to the way its advertising resources report audience reach data over recent months – including making significant revisions to its base audience data for Facebook – so the figures shown here may not be directly comparable with figures published in our previous reports.

To learn more about these changes, please see this article, as well as our comprehensive notes on data.

Facebook user growth in South Africa

Figures published in Meta’s own tools indicate that Facebook’s potential ad reach in South Africa decreased by 2.1 million (-8.5 percent) between 2022 and 2023.

For more recent context, the same data show that the number of users that marketers could reach with ads on Facebook in South Africa decreased by 1.8 million (-7.5 percent) between October 2022 and January 2023.

However, it’s important to stress that these advertising reach figures are not the same as the monthly active users figures that Meta reports in its investor earnings announcements, and they should not be interpreted as such.

As the company states within its ad planning tools,

“Estimated audience size is not a proxy for monthly or daily active users, or for engagement. Estimates aren’t designed to match population, census estimates or other sources, and may differ depending on factors such as how many accounts across Meta technologies a person has, how many temporary visitors are in a particular geographic location at a given time, and Meta user-reported demographics.”

As a result, changes in ad reach may not necessarily indicate any change in the platform’s overall user base.

But despite these caveats, Meta’s ad reach data still offers valuable insights into how Facebook use is evolving.

Facebook adoption in South Africa

Facebook’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 36.8 percent of the total population at the start of 2023.

However, Facebook restricts the use of its platform to people aged 13 and above, so it’s worth highlighting that 48.9 percent of the “eligible” audience in South Africa uses Facebook in 2023.

For additional context, Facebook’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 50.9 percent of the local internet user base (regardless of age) in January 2023.

At the start of 2023, 50.8 percent of Facebook’s ad audience in South Africa was female, while 49.2 percent was male.

Note: Meta’s advertising resources only publish audience gender data for “female” and “male” users.

▶ Looking for more Facebook stats? Click here to explore our in-depth Facebook data for every country in the world.

YouTube users in South Africa in 2023

Updates to Google’s advertising resources indicate that YouTube had 25.80 million users in South Africa in early 2023.

It’s important to stress that these advertising reach figures do not necessarily represent the same thing as monthly active user figures though, and there may be meaningful differences between the size of YouTube’s ad audience and its total active user base.

However, the company’s own data suggests that YouTube’s ad reach in early 2023 was equivalent to 42.9 percent of South Africa’s total population at the start of the year.

To put those figures in perspective, YouTube ads reached 59.3 percent of South Africa’s total internet user base (regardless of age) in January 2023.

At that time, 50.0 percent of YouTube’s ad audience in South Africa was female, while 50.0 percent was male.

Note: Google’s advertising resources only publish audience gender data for “female” and “male” users.

YouTube user growth in South Africa

Data published in Google’s own ad planning tools show that YouTube’s potential ad reach in South Africa increased by 500 thousand (+2.0 percent) between the start of 2022 and early 2023.

However, the same data show that the number of users that marketers could reach with ads on YouTube in South Africa actually increased by 800 thousand (+3.2 percent) between October 2022 and January 2023, suggesting that reach may have fallen between January 2022 and October 2022.

▶ Looking for more YouTube stats? Click here to explore our in-depth YouTube data for every country in the world.

Need more social media numbers? Our platform guides help you make sense of all the latest stats for the world’s biggest social media platforms.

Instagram users in South Africa in 2023

Numbers published in Meta’s advertising tools indicate that Instagram had 5.65 million users in South Africa in early 2023.

The company’s recently revised figures suggest that Instagram’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 9.4 percent of the total population at the start of the year.

However, Instagram restricts the use of its platform to people aged 13 and above, so it’s helpful to know that 12.5 percent of the “eligible” audience in South Africa uses Instagram in 2023.

It’s also worth noting that Instagram’s ad reach in South Africa at the start of 2023 was equivalent to 13.0 percent of the local internet user base (regardless of age).

In early 2023, 54.0 percent of Instagram’s ad audience in South Africa was female, while 46.0 percent was male.

Note: Meta’s advertising resources only publish audience gender data for “female” and “male” users.

Instagram user growth in South Africa

Data published in Meta’s planning tools show that Instagram’s potential ad reach in South Africa decreased by 550 thousand (-8.9 percent) between 2022 and 2023.

On a quarterly basis, the company’s data also reveal that the size of Instagram’s ad audience in South Africa decreased by 250 thousand (-4.2 percent) between October 2022 and January 2023.

As we noted in the Facebook section above though, changes in the audience reach figures published in Meta’s ad planning tools do not necessarily correlate with overall changes in its platforms’ active user bases.

▶ Looking for more Instagram stats? Click here to explore our in-depth Instagram data for every country in the world.

TikTok users in South Africa in 2023

Figures published in ByteDance’s advertising resources indicate that TikTok had 11.83 million users aged 18 and above in South Africa in early 2023.

Note that ByteDance allows marketers to target TikTok ads to users aged 13 and above via its advertising tools, but these tools only show audience data for users aged 18 and above.

For context, ByteDance’s figures indicate that TikTok ads reached 29.6 percent of all adults aged 18 and above in South Africa at the start of 2023.

Meanwhile, TikTok’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 27.2 percent of the local internet user base at the beginning of the year, regardless of age.

In early 2023, 56.1 percent of TikTok’s ad audience in South Africa was female, while 43.9 percent was male.

Note: ByteDance’s advertising resources only publish audience gender data for “female” and “male” users.

TikTok user growth in South Africa

Data published in ByteDance’s own ad planning tools show that TikTok’s potential ad reach in South Africa increased by 5.4 million (+83.6 percent) between the start of 2022 and early 2023.

Meanwhile, figures indicate that the potential reach of ads on TikTok in South Africa increased by 1.5 million (+14.4 percent) between October 2022 and January 2023.

Having said that, ad audiences often only account for a subset of a platform’s total users, and given that TikTok’s ad tools only publish data for users aged 18 and above, it’s important to remember that these changes in TikTok ad reach may not necessarily match changes in the platform’s overall user base.

▶ Looking for more TikTok stats? Click here to explore our in-depth TikTok data for every country in the world.

Want to stay up to date with digital trends? Our quarterly briefings and custom advisory services help you make sense of all the latest digital trends, enabling you to turn data into insights, action, and results. Learn more at kepios.com.

Facebook Messenger users in South Africa in 2023

Data published in Meta’s advertising resources indicate that ads on Facebook Messenger reached 5.15 million users in South Africa in early 2023.

The company’s recently revised audience numbers suggest that Facebook Messenger’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 8.6 percent of the total population at the start of the year.

Facebook Messenger restricts the use of its platform to people aged 13 and above though, so it’s also worth highlighting that ads reach 11.4 percent of Facebook Messenger’s “eligible” audience in South Africa in 2023.

For additional context, Facebook Messenger’s ad reach in South Africa is equivalent to 11.8 percent of the local internet user base (regardless of age).

At the start of 2023, 50.0 percent of Facebook Messenger’s ad audience in South Africa was female, while 50.0 percent was male.

Notes: Meta’s advertising resources only publish audience gender data for “female” and “male” users.

Facebook Messenger user growth in South Africa

Data published in Meta’s planning tools show that Facebook Messenger’s potential ad reach in South Africa decreased by 50 thousand (-1.0 percent) between 2022 and 2023.

On a quarterly basis, the company’s data reveal that the size of Facebook Messenger’s ad audience in South Africa decreased by 150 thousand (-2.8 percent) between October 2022 and January 2023.

However, as we noted in the Facebook section above, changes in the audience reach figures published in Meta’s ad planning tools do not necessarily correlate with overall changes in its platforms’ active user bases.

▶ Looking for more Facebook Messenger stats? Click here to explore our in-depth Facebook Messenger data for every country in the world.

LinkedIn users in South Africa in 2023

Figures published in LinkedIn’s advertising resources indicate that LinkedIn had 11.00 million “members” in South Africa in early 2023.

However, note that LinkedIn’s advertising tools publish audience reach data based on total registered members, rather than the monthly active users that form the basis of the ad reach figures published by most other social media platforms.

As a result, these LinkedIn figures are not directly comparable with the figures for other social media platforms published on this page, or in our Digital 2023 reports.

The company’s advertising reach figures suggest that LinkedIn’s audience in South Africa was equivalent to 18.3 percent of the total population at the start of 2023.

LinkedIn restricts the use of its platform to people aged 18 and above though, so it’s also helpful to know that 27.5 percent of the “eligible” audience in South Africa uses LinkedIn in 2023.

For additional context, LinkedIn’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 25.3 percent of the local internet user base (regardless of age) at the start of the year.

In early 2023, 48.1 percent of LinkedIn’s ad audience in South Africa was female, while 51.9 percent was male.

Note: LinkedIn’s advertising resources only publish audience gender data for “female” and “male” users.

LinkedIn user growth in South Africa

Data published in LinkedIn’s planning tools show that LinkedIn’s potential ad reach in South Africa increased by 1.5 million (+15.8 percent) between 2022 and 2023.

On a quarterly basis, the company’s data reveal that the size of LinkedIn’s ad audience in South Africa increased by 1.0 million (+10.0 percent) between October 2022 and January 2023.

However, because LinkedIn’s ad audience figures are based on total registered members rather than monthly active users, it’s unclear whether these trends might reflect changes in active LinkedIn use too.

▶ Looking for more LinkedIn stats? Click here to explore our in-depth LinkedIn data for every country in the world.

Get data for every country on Earth: visit our online library to browse all of our reports, including the latest digital data for every country in the world, and more than a decade of historical numbers, trends, and insights.

Snapchat users in South Africa in 2023

Data published in Snap’s advertising resources indicate that Snapchat had 5.85 million users in South Africa in early 2023.

This figure means that Snapchat’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 9.7 percent of the total population at the start of the year.

However, Snapchat restricts the use of its platform to people aged 13 and above, so it’s also worth noting that 12.9 percent of the “eligible” audience in South Africa uses Snapchat in 2023.

For additional context, Snapchat’s ad reach in South Africa was equivalent to 13.5 percent of the local internet user base (regardless of age) at the start of the year.

In early 2023, 78.7 percent of Snapchat’s ad audience in South Africa was female, while 19.5 percent was male.

Note: Snap’s advertising resources only publish audience gender data for “female” and “male” users, but the figures published for these demographics don’t always add up to the total user figure, so percentages shown here may not sum to 100 percent.

Snapchat user growth in South Africa

Data published in Snap’s own ad planning tools show that Snapchat’s potential ad reach in South Africa decreased by 400 thousand (-6.4 percent) between the start of 2022 and early 2023.

However, the same data show that the number of users that marketers could reach with ads on Snapchat in South Africa actually increased by 1.2 million (+24.5 percent) between October 2022 and January 2023, suggesting that reach may have fallen between January 2022 and October 2022.

However, it’s important to stress that these advertising reach figures do not represent monthly active user figures, and there may be meaningful differences between the size of Snapchat’s ad audience and its total active user base.

▶ Looking for more Snapchat stats? Click here to explore our in-depth Snapchat data for every country in the world.