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New research conducted by the Center for Rights and Democracy (CARD), a local nonprofit organization, has found that 91 percent of internet users in Addis Ababa spend more than one hour a day online.

The study, which examined the equitability of internet accessibility in Ethiopia, reveals that a large group (35.3%) of internet users in Addis Ababa go online for about four hours daily, while another significant portion (27.16%) spends up to eight hours online.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 0.74% of users spend less than 30 minutes online daily, and 8.38% use the internet between 30 minutes to one hour.

Akofada (DFS Ethiopia)

The study, published this week, surveyed 810 respondents in Addis Ababa and Arbaminch across various socio-demographic groups to understand internet access and usage patterns in Ethiopia. The 132-page study also included key informant interviews, document analysis, and field observations.

Funded by Access Now, a nonprofit organization focused on digital civil rights, the research, titled Equity of Access to the Internet in Ethiopia,” also explored network quality, data plan preferences, internet affordability, digital literacy, and access to devices.

“Ethiopia is one of the least connected countries in the world with less than a quarter of the population accessing the Internet, and yet there are far deeper disparities among different societal groups, curtailing them from reaping the benefits from connectivity,” said Asrat Seyoum, research team coordinator at CARD.

The study reveals that most respondents (40%) go online 2-3 times a day, with cellular/mobile networks being the most preferred internet connection. However, factors such as educational level, gender, digital literacy, and infrastructure significantly affect internet usage.

For instance, people with higher education use the internet more frequently. Individuals with university degrees are more likely to be “always” connected, highlighting the link between education and constant internet access. The study also found a clear link between income and internet access. Among individuals earning between 0 and 2500 birr, a notable proportion spends less than 30 minutes online, suggesting shorter internet usage periods.

In contrast, those with incomes of 7001-15,000 birr and >25,000 birr exhibit increasing engagement trends, especially in longer time intervals. The highest income group (above 25,000 birr) shows a significant proportion spending more than 8 hours online. Additionally, gender differences persist across all usage categories, indicating a gender-based digital divide.

Established in 2019, CARD is a civil society organization working to advance civic engagement, media, and digital rights in Ethiopia.

Previous studies show that a typical global internet user spends around 7 hours using the internet. People in countries such as South Africa, the Philippines, Brazil, and Colombia are among the leaders in spending the most time on the Internet, with usage exceeding 10 hours a day.

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Etenat holds a degree in Journalism and her master's in Public Relations. Previously, she served as a university lecturer and has five years of experience in communications, media, digital marketing, and consulting.