WhatsApp Shows Promise in South Africa

More than half of South African adult cell phone users living in cities and towns are using WhatsApp on their phones, says research conducted by World Wide Worx and Fuseware.

The study into the use of social media and Instant Messaging (IM) on mobile phones in South Africa revealed that WhatsApp instant messenger is used by at least 10.6 million South African adults. The survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of adult cell phone users living in cities and towns, representing approximately 20 million adults.

The social and IM markets are characterised by a strong urban-rural divide, with WhatsApp used by 61 per cent of urban dwellers, compared to 37 per cent outside urban areas. Furthermore, the survey does not include 'deep rural' users living outside cities and towns, as IT News Africa reports.

These findings were published after social media leader Facebook announced its acquisition of WhatsApp for US$19 billion, proving the determination to dominate both social media and IM services.

Facebook remains the dominant social network on phones, with 45 per cent – or 9 million – South Africans using it on their mobile devices at the end of 2013. The total use of the site on all devices was around 11 million, putting it slightly ahead of WhatsApp at this current time. Future projects claim WhatsApp penetration will raise to 63 per cent in the next 12-18 months, versus Facebook's moderate growth to 53 per cent.

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) also continues to show signs of growth, and is now used by 21 per cent of adults in the country, with projected growth to 28 per cent penetration.