Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

MORE than half of South Africans believe that access to the internet is essential as they carry out their daily lives.

This is according to mobile commerce accelerator Upstream’s 2016 Developing Marketers Mobile Commerce report‚ released on Wednesday.

The report found that 55% of South Africans saw internet access as a basic human right.

"This poses a significant opportunity for digital services providers‚ as 88% of South African consumers claim they make daily use of mobile handsets for accessing digital services‚ going up to 95% on a monthly basis‚" Upstream said.

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"This increased appetite for digital services [will lead] to a $70bn digital revenue opportunity on offer in emerging markets."

The report’s key findings show that:

• 61% of South Africans are unsatisfied with their current mobile internet connection‚ with 36% saying it is "slow" and 25% describing it as "unreliable";

• 69% of South African consumers would like free access to limited basic internet in order to reach family and friends abroad;

• 79% of mobile usage in SA is dedicated to social media‚ followed by music at 55%‚ news at 54%‚ games at 50%‚ videos 49% and device utility at 42%; and

• 47% of local consumers would like more localised and international content on their devices.

Radio personality Thabo "Tbo Touch" Molefe‚ who last week launched the Data Must Fall campaign in a bid to get networks to lower data costs‚ reflected some of these sentiments when he addressed Parliament on Tuesday.

"It’s an honour that this house recognises our cause … data is as essential as food‚ shelter and clothing‚" said Molefe.

He and business partner Gareth Cliff on Tuesday pleaded with MPs to support their call for reduced data costs.

Communications expert Arthur Goldstuck said the cost of prepaid data in SA was "prohibitively expensive", from R1 to R2 per megabyte.

"For the typical prepaid user‚ this is coming off their airtime‚ and is perceived not only as unaffordable‚ but also as stealing airtime.

"The regulator (Independent Communications Authority of SA) should step in and mandate a ceiling price of 20c to 40c per MB if the operators won’t do it themselves."

Goldstuck said in the next few years revenue from data would overtake revenue from voice calls.

TMG Digital