SA, Africa's largest economy, is falling behind other countries on the continent when it comes to the number of people who have access to the Internet.
That is according to the latest Internet World Stats figures on connectivity rates in Africa.
Internet World Stats' research, which was completed in December, says Nigeria tops Africa at 45 million Internet users, while Egypt, Morocco and Kenya, respectively, follow the West African nation with 21.7 million, 15.7 million and 10.6 million people being connected.
SA ranks fifth, with 6.8 million people with access to the Internet, ahead of Tanzania which has 4.9 million Internet users.
World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says SA's low Internet connectivity rate, as compared to Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and Kenya, is as a result of the country's smaller population size of 50 million people.
Nigeria, for instance, has a population of 150 million people, while Egypt has 80 million people.
“It is fair to say South Africa is falling behind, but it is beginning to claw its way back,” says Goldstuck. “In the medium term, we are likely to overtake Morocco, but in the long term will be overtaken by Ethiopia and possibly even the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
The report also says Africa's total number of Internet users has increased dramatically since 2000, from having 4.5 million connected users in that year to 139 875 242 at the end of 2011.
Falling international connectivity costs in Africa and the rapid uptake of both smartphones and ordinary phones that allow Web browsing and data applications are two key factors that have driven up Internet usage in Africa, says Goldstuck.
However, despite the rise in Internet users on the continent, Internet World Stats says Africa still has the world's lowest Internet penetration rate at 13.5%