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South Africans Spend the Most Time on the Internet in the world

If you have ever wondered which country spends the most time browsing the internet, then that answer is South Africa.

According to data published by the American virtual private network (VPN) platform Atlas VPN, South Africans are the most internet-addicted persons in the world, spending an average of 578 minutes (nine hours and 38 minutes) online daily last year, three hours more than the global average.

Based on data provided by online media monitoring company Meltwater and global creative agency We Are Social, the report covered internet usage trends worldwide among internet users aged 16 to 64. According to the data, the average time spent browsing the internet in 2022 was 397 minutes (six hours and 37 minutes) per day, equating to 2,415 hours yearly.

How other countries fared

Trailing behind South Africa in the ranking of internet addiction, Brazil with 572 minutes (9 hours and 32 minutes) spent online daily, followed by the Philippines, which ranked third with an average of 554 minutes (9 hours and 14 minutes) spent online per day. Holding the fourth and fifth places are Argentina and Colombia—both with 541 minutes (9 hours and 1 minute) of daily internet usage.

Image Source: AFP.

The United States and Singapore spend 419 minutes (6 hours and 59 minutes) daily on internet browsing. On the other hand, Canadians spend an average of 395 minutes (6 hours and 35 minutes) online daily. Denmark dedicates the least amount of time to being online from all European countries in the study, with an average of 298 minutes (4 hours and 58 minutes) daily.

The study found that East Asian countries have one of the lowest average daily internet usage in the world: China (5 hours and 25 minutes), South Korea (5 hours and 21 minutes), and Japan (3 hours and 45 minutes), with Taiwan being the outlier with 7 hours and 14 minutes.

Per the Atlas VPN report, the top reason people spend the most time online is to find information, as affirmed by 57.8% of the internet users surveyed in the study. Other reasons include staying connected with loved ones snagging 53.7%, followed by keeping up with the latest news and events (50.9%), watching videos, TV shows, and movies (49.7%), and researching how to do things (47.6%).

South Africa isn’t the only internet-addicted country in Africa

South Africa isn’t only the African country on the list of countries with many hours of daily internet usage. According to the study, Egypt is among the world’s top ten countries that camp online, spending 461 minutes (seven hours and 41 minutes) browsing the internet daily.

Interestingly, both countries saw regressions in their internet rankings on the Speedtest Global Index by Ookla, a global network intelligence and connectivity research firm. Egypt fell by six slots to 91, while South Africa fell by nine to 64. The index, however, noted that the fall resulted from the rising cost of living in the two countries. Despite falls in their mobile rankings, their fixed broadband internet speeds shot up by four and a single position to 84 and 97, respectively.

Image Source: Reuters.

South Africa had 43.48 million internet users at the start of 2023, just as internet penetration stood at 72.3%. About 20 to 22 million people in South Africa use a smartphone, which accounts for about one-third of the country’s population, according to Statista.

But South Africa’s internet quality ranks 62nd in the world and is 8% worse than the global average, per the 2022 Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) by Surfshark. Internet affordability is another problem, as South Africans would need to work a minimum of five hours to afford broadband.

Conversely, Egypt had about 80.75 million internet users, with its internet penetration at 72.2%. Kepios analysis indicates that internet users in Egypt increased by 1.4 million (1.9%) between 2021 and 2022. Egypt ranked first among African countries for fixed broadband internet speed in the 2022 Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index with an average speed of 35.67 megabits per second (Mbps).

According to Statista, Egypt ranked 55th in 233 countries worldwide, from the cheapest to the most expensive for mobile data. Data from GSMA Intelligence also reveals 98.29 million mobile connections in Egypt at the start of 2022.

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