South Africa is riding the Internet wave, with both the number of users and number of Web visits showing phenomenal growth over the last two years.
According to Nielsen/NetRatings research, this country boasted 3,9-million active Internet users in May 2007 – a staggering 121% more than the 1,8-million in May 2005.
During that period, page impressions grew 129% from 91-million to 207-million.
Alex Burmaster, Internet analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings, comments: "In terms of the number of people using the Internet, the most developed markets in the northern hemisphere have seen a plateauing of growth over the last year or so.
"In contract, South Africa has seen phenomenal expansion – growing by around 50% in each of the last two years.
"This type of growth is, of course, something we have seen across all markets as the Internet has taken hold and moves away from being a niche activity to a very mainstream for of media and an integral part of life."
Just over half (52%) of South African Internet users are English-speaking, at 2,007-million. The next most dominant group is Afrikaans-speakers, with 1,111-million users making up 28% of the Internet population.
Zulu-speaking users make up 5% of the local users (209 377), followed by Xhosa-speakers at 4% (170 750) and Setswana-speaking users at 3% (127 792). The balance of South Africa's ethnic groups collectively make up 8% of the Internet population.
South African users are mostly male, at 54% or 2,15-million people.
Indicating that the Internet is still used primarily as a business tool, the age of the online population is dominated by 25-34 year-olds (1,42-million people; 36%) and 35-49 year-olds (1,37-million people; 35%).
The under-25 age group makes up just 17% of the Internet population, with 680 955 users, with over-50s accounting for just 12% at 467 247 people.
"The South African Internet population is much more concentrated around the 25-49 year-olds than any other English-speaking Internet nations," says Burmaster.
"In South Africa, this group makes up around 70% of the Internet population, compared to less then 50% in the UK, around 43% in Australia and 40% in the US.
"The majority of the Internet population speaks English and the vast majority of online content is English," he adds.
"While the South African Internet is experiencing huge growth in this area, the opportunity for hyper-audience growth in the future lies in targeting African language speakers."