The report, by McKinsey & Company Insights Center, found that 51 percent of people surveyed had accessed Internet in the last month and 25 percent are online daily.
57 percent of Internet users go online primarily to use social networking sites, followed by viewing email and entertainment, with online shopping lagging behind with between 10 and 13 percent and even fewer banking online.
The survey also found that a quarter of consumers who use the Internet daily do so using their mobile phone. 54 percent of people have Internet-enabled devices.
“Urban Africans have embraced the internet, driven by the need to connect with friends and family and the increasing affordability of internet-capable phones,” said authors Ade Sun-Basorun, Lohini Moodley, Suraj Moraje and Marie Nielsen.
Africa’s Internet usage is so large, in fact, that it can be ranked alongside quickly developing nations such as Brazil and China in penetration.
“Internet use is far greater than anticipated - more than 50 per cent of the urban Africans say they have accessed the internet in the last four weeks, on par with reported usage in Brazil and China,” the report noted.
One example highlighted was Kenya, which has "internet penetration standing at 70% that is boosted by affordable mobile broadband and high penetration (95%) of internet -capable mobile devices."
The survey covered 15,000 people in 19 cities in 12 African countries. Cities generate much more Internet traffic than rural areas, accounting for over 80 million consumers, around 15 percent of the respective countries’ national populations.
McKinsey noted that these cities also represent nearly 25 percent of the countries’ national consumption, about USS$350 billion.