2021 Global Digital Report Shows Interesting Details On Africa’s Internet Usage

Global Digital Report
Global mobile phone users
Mobile users worldwide (Photo credit: Gadget cover)

The Global Digital Report 2021 by We Are Social and Hootsuite is out. This annual report reveals worldwide social media stats and the changes in how people use the internet. This year’s report shows that the number of internet users has increased than what it was before. Daily, more than a million people use the internet for the first time in their lives, which means more than a million new users on the internet.

Summary of the global digital report 2021

Below are interesting statistics from the 2021 global digital report;

  • Globally, there are 5.22 billion people that use a mobile phone today. This equates to 66.6% of the world’s total population. It is essential to know that unique phone users have increased by 1.8% (93 million) since last year.
  • There are 4.66 billion internet users today. The number increased by 7.3% (316 million) since this time last year. However, COVID-19 had a significant impact on the number of internet users, and the figures may go higher.
  • More than 4.20 billion people use social media worldwide. The figure grew by 490 million people in the past year. According to the report, the number of social media users worldwide is approximately 53% of the world’s total population.

Today, the world’s population is about 7.83 billion people. Comparing the figures above shows that the global mobile penetration is about 97.1%, and the percentage of internet users of the total global population is about 59.5%. Also, the total number of people using their mobile phones to access the internet in comparison to the global population right now is about 59.5%. 

The Report Body

We Are Social is a global team of more than 850 people from different countries. Also, the team is one of the world’s leading independent sources of global digital trends. Furthermore, this year’s report comprises thousands of charts taken from more than 200 local and global reports. The report was made possible in partnership with GWI, Statista, App Annie, The ITU, GSMA Intelligence, Semrush, SimilarWeb, Locowise, Kenshoo.

Internet users in 2021

The Global Digital Report 2021 shows that the rate at which people are using the internet increased, and it will further increase in the near future. More than 20 million people are using the internet every second. From January 2020 to January 2021, the number of internet users globally increased by 7.3%—an addition of 316 million people.

Social media adoption increases

Global digital report
(Photo credit: We Are Social)

The main reason we have seen a surge in internet users is due to the increased use of social media. It is essential to know that the number of social media users has jumped by more than 13% over the past year, with nearly half a billion new users taking the global total to almost 4.2 billion by the start of 2021.

Averagely, more than 1.3 million new users joined social media daily in 2020, equating to 151/2 new users per second. The regular social media user now spends 2 hours and 25 minutes on social media every day, equating to about one waking day of their life per week.

Global digital report
(Photo credit: We Are Social)

Social media users worldwide will spend approximately 3.7 trillion hours on social media in 2021—equating to more than 420 million years of combined human existence.

Africa’s Digital Report

Global digital report
(Photo credit: We Are Social)

Africa wasn’t left out in the Global Digital report. According to the report, there is a surge in the number of internet users on the continent. Below are interesting points to note on Africa’s Internet use.

  • Out of the total population of 1.356 billion in Africa, 62% in Southern Africa use the internet, 42% in West Africa, 26% in Middle Africa, 24% in Eastern Africa, and 56% in Northern Africa.
  • When it comes to the percentage of the total population that uses the internet, South Africa has the highest percentage (64%), followed by Egypt (57.3%), Ghana (50%), Nigeria (50%), and Kenya (40%).
  • Concerning the growth in internet users, Africa is taking a positive leap as it records a remarkable increase than what it was in the last two years. Western Africa recorded a 17.2% increase, Middle Africa 21.3%, Northern Africa 9.1%, Eastern Africa 10.2%, and Southern Africa 4.4%.

Internet penetration in Africa is growing at a fast pace—which is good news for the continent. The surge in Internet adoption will fuel economic growth across the continent, as there are many mobile carriers now seeking to expand network coverage in Africa.

Nevertheless, some African countries still have low penetration when it comes to the internet. For instance, there are still 238 million unconnected people in Western Africa. Eastern Africa has the largest unconnected audience in the continent (341 million). Also, Liberia has the largest percentage of people who do not use the internet in the world (85% of its population).

However, in a few years to come, we may see a positive leap as more countries in Africa now seek to expand their growth with internet technology.


The Global Digital Report reveals that mobile and internet penetration continues to improve globally. We can take several positives on this year’s report on Africa’s internet adoption. However, the most significant is that the continent’s percentage keeps growing annually. With the world moving towards digital economy, Africa will gain a lot from pushing its Internet usage.

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