South Africans and the Internet — They Prefer Local

Ethan Dunwill
May 20, 2015 · 4 min read

The South African economy continues to grow at a solid rate, and so does the number of people now connected to the Internet.

Broadband infrastructure has not always kept pace with user needs, and because South Africans have traditionally had some difficulty with international sites, they are visiting and purchasing products and services primarily from local sites.

Many of these sites have American counterparts and look very familiar to an American visitor. Because they are in English, moreover, there are perhaps some significant and lucrative IT business opportunities in the South African market.

So, let’s just take a look at the 10 most popular sites in South Africa — it may give you some thoughts on expanding your own IT-related business.

As the site name implies, this is a 24-hour local, national, and international news sites that provides up-to-the-minute news and stories. It is hugely popular in S. Africa, particularly as the use of mobile devices increases. People can get news no matter where they may be.

A huge clearinghouse for buying, selling, job classifieds, and more, this site is S. Africa’s answer to America’s Craigslist. It even looks quite similar in design and format.

This site first appeared in 1999 but did not initially achieve a lot of popularity. Now, however, it is a hot site, and is amazingly similar to our eBay. People can sell items directly to a buyer or put them up for auction. Fees are calculated using the same model as eBay uses.

Banking and Financial Services

Three of the most popular websites are those belonging to financial institutions. offers online banking services of all types and boasts 7.2 mobile customers right now. If America has an equivalent it is Ally Bank. is a banking company with brick and mortar presence but with full web-based banking services as well. Equivalents in the U.S. would be any current physical banks that have Internet banking options — pretty much any bank in the U.S. is probably the largest commercial bank in South Africa, and provides all of the same banking services — online access to accounts, bill pay, transfers, etc. that any U.S. bank would provide.

This is a huge site for advertising and classified ads. It has great search functions, and people use it to find products, services, and to buy items from other individuals. Sort of a combination of Angie’s list and Craigslist.

A giant online newspaper with about 22,000,000 views a month, and more international visitors than any other South African website. News focus is international, but it also covers local, national, and international, weather, and business, as well as houses a huge classified ad section.

This site keeps consumer up to date on all sorts of IT and tech news. It also covers news on energy, utilities, and infrastructure — all hot issues in South Africa right now.

South Africa’s answer to And it operates just like Monster does — a place for employers and candidates to connect; job seekers can upload their resumes in a database or apply for specific posted positions.

Looking at IT Business Opportunities in South Africa

Interestingly, social media sites are completely lacking in the 10 most popular sites in South Africa. There may be room here for an enterprising individual to design local versions of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. It’s worth looking into.

  1. Not one of the most popular sites related to kids. Perhaps there is a market for the design and development of kid-friendly sites. Looking toward the future, there is a growing middle class in the country, and with middle class comes home computers and additional mobile devices. Kids’ use of technology will only grow.
  2. Web design and content marketing may still have a long way to go in South Africa. When three of the most popular websites are banks, two are news related, and only two are engaged in buying and selling products, one might wonder what the saturation level is for small businesses who just may not yet have a web presence. And all of this can be accomplished remotely once the contacts are made. It’s certainly worth researching a bit more.
    Ethan Dunwill

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