INTERNET usage in South Africa has hit an all-time high in the last seven years.
This is according to findings by a study titled Internet Access in South Africa 2008, which revealed that internet users have increased to 4, 4 million in a country of more than 40 million people.
This represents a 12, 5 percent increase from 2001. This is despite numerous setbacks in the sector.
“The increase comes on the eve of the biggest shakeup in South African Internet access we’ve seen since the dawn of the commercial Internet in 1994. It is only the beginning of a dramatic turnaround, and is occurring despite numerous obstacles in the way of growth,” said researcher Arthur Goldstuck.
Reshaad Ahmed, senior manager of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group said, “South Africa could, potentially, go from five major service providers to more than 300 overnight,” he says. “The combination of new licencees, policy directions and municipality networks has set the stage for a highly competitive telecommunications marketplace, with consumers and businesses leading the charge toward choice, competition and fair market value.”
The industry has faced obstacles recently, among these a highly restrictive regulatory environment, with South Africa’s Minister of Communications only deciding late in the year not to oppose a court ruling that would allow all network operators to supply their own infrastructure.
“In that time (of obstacles), we saw growth slow to a near standstill, and the possibility of bringing access to underserviced area becoming ever more remote but the market has been anticipating this change, and numerous small, semi-legal networks have sprung up around the country in the past year.
“Many of these should emerge above the radar with their new licenses, along with new entrants into the market,” Goldstuck said