Translated's Research Center

South Africa


To which language should you translate to localize in South Africa?

What we know from our community

Molo, Dumela, Avuxeni, Aa/Ndaa. That is how you greet in few languages out of the eleven official
languages in South Africa spoken in nine provinces. What is interesting is that from some of the
greetings you can determine whether a person is greeting one person or, two or more people. In some
you can also determine the gender of the person who is greeting.

The accents and tradition differ depending on where the speakers reside. You will find that most of the
vernacular languages speaking people in rural areas they have deep accent and are more into tradition
than those who stay in different parts of the country. Also most of them understand their mother
tongue only, while those in other parts of the country are bilingual or know more languages.

What the 150 top websites do

Of the top 150 website (Global by design ranking):

  • 109/150 translate into English.
  • 5/150 translate into Zulu.
  • 4/150 translate into Afrikaans.
  • 4/150 translates into Xhosa.
  • 3/150 translate into Swazi.
  • 3/150 translate into Setswana.
  • 2/150 translate into Ndebele.
  • 2/150 translate into Sepedi.
  • 2/150 translate into Xitsonga.
  • 2/150 translate into Sesotho.
  • 1/150 translates into South African Sign Language.
  • 1/150 translates into Swazi Sign Language.

If you need others information, below you can find a selection of economic/social/cultural data



Official language
Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. It is notable that the use of most languages outside the household declined – with the exceptions of isiZulu and Setswana. According to StatsSA’s data, the Indian/Asian population group is the most monolingual with 92.1% speaking English at home.More than three-quarters (77.4%) of coloured individuals speak Afrikaans at home while 20.1% use English.More than three-fifths (61,2%) of white South Africans speak Afrikaans and 36.3% speak English. By comparison, black Africans speak a much larger variety of languages, StatsSA said. Besides the two most commonly spoken languages, isiZulu (31.1%) and isiXhosa (18.2%), notable sub-groups of black African individuals also spoke Sepedi (12.4%), Setswana (11.1%) and Sesotho (9.7%).

T-index 0.46%

T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.

High proficiency (EF) – 12 of 111 countries/regions in the world- 1/20 position in Africa.


Capitals: Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein
Currency: South African Rand
Population: 59,89 m
Population density: 49/km2


GDP: 405.86 billion USD (2022)
GDP per capita: 6,776.5 USD‎(2022)
Exports: 143 billion USD (2021)


Unemployment rate28.8% (2022)
68% (2022)
95% (2019)
Internet users72.3% penetration, 43.48 million

By 2025 more than 50% of SubSaharan Africa will have a mobile connection, of which 65% will have a smartphone. This will result in more than 475 million mobile internet users; the top three markets for smartphone users are projected to be Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya.


Numbering system
Arabic numerals and comma as decimal separator. The comma is official. but the point is used in business

Date format: yyyy – mm – dd / dd – mm – yyyy
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 0027

Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal

Facts and data


96.7 billion USD (2021). Refined Petroleum ($7.85B), Crude Petroleum ($5.42B), Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($3.44B), Cars ($3.25B), and Broadcasting Equipment ($2.43B), importing mostly from China ($20.5B), Germany ($8.89B), India ($6.01B), United States ($5.2B), and Saudi Arabia ($4.16B).

In 2021, South Africa was the world’s biggest importer of Documents of title (bonds etc) and unused stamps ($546M) and Metallic Fabric ($3.46M).

Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of  age)
• 84.1% have an account with a financial institution
• 10% have a credit card
• 36.6% have a mobile money account
• 9.7% make online purchases

Ease of doing business
It is easy to conduct business (rated 67 out of 100). Ranked 4th out of 48 Sub-Saharan African countries. Ranked 84th out of 190 countries worldwide (2022, World Bank).

143 billion USD (2021). Platinum ($24.5B), Gold ($20.1B), Iron Ore ($7.68B), Diamonds ($7.02B), and Coal Briquettes ($6.72B), exporting mostly to China ($20.6B), United States ($14B), Germany ($10.4B), United Kingdom ($10.1B), and India ($9.5B).

In 2021, South Africa was the world’s biggest exporter of Platinum ($24.5B), Manganese Ore ($2.9B), Chromium Ore ($1.83B), Precious Metal Ore ($1.78B), and Titanium Ore ($501M).

Main local online stores
Amazon, and McAfee. Other top retail sites include BidorBuy, Alibaba, Apple,, eBay, and Woolworths. 

Economic freedom
‘‘Mostly not free’ (rated 55.7 out of 100). Ranked 17th out of 47 African countries. Ranked 116th out of 176 countries worldwide (2022, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal).

Global Innovation Index
Ranked 2nd out of 27 Sub-Sahara African countries, 61st out of 132 worldwide.

The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.

Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal

Service Imports (2018)
Service Exports (2018)

Source: OEC

Historical Data Trade Imports

The following section uses historical trade data imports from partners of South Africa.

Historical Data Trade Exports

The following section uses historical trade data exports from partners of South Africa.

Source: OEC

South Africa's Most Complex Exports

The Product Complexity Index (PCI) measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters.

The Top Export Opportunities for South Africa by Relatedness

Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product by showing only products that South Africa is not specialized in.

Source: OEC

South Africa's Most Specialized Products

Specialization is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage (RCA), an index that takes the ratio between South Africa observed and expected exports in each product.

Source: OEC

Market Growth Imports (2018)

This score represents the likelihood that the given country will start importing that product in the next few years. It forecasts the opening of a new specific market.

Market Growth Exports (2018)

This score represents the likelihood that the given country will start exporting that product in the next few years. It forecasts the opening of a new specific market.

Source: OEC



Reach most of the online purchasing power

T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales. It estimates the market share of each country in relation to global e-commerce.

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Media language Most used language is English, followed by Afrikaans, but all the 11 official languages are represented.

Information channels
South Africa is a major media player. There is an established state-owned and private broadcasting scene, and a thriving satellite and cable TV industry. South African company MultiChoice, which operates the DStv platform, markets its pay TV services in dozens of African countries. The state broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), runs TV and radio networks operating in multiple languages. But in recent years it has endured financial difficulties, accusations of political censorship, and a scandal surrounding a former executive. The lively press scene is dominated by a handful of major publishing groups. Reporters Without Borders says coverage of certain subjects involving the ruling ANC and government finances is off limits, or provokes a hostile reaction from the authorities. There were nearly 31 million internet users by the end of 2017 – comprising more than half of the population (InternetWorldStats). Internet use is driven by the use of mobile devices. Access is unrestricted, says Freedom House.

The press

The Star – Johannesburg-based daily, city’s oldest newspaper
The Sowetan – Johannesburg-based tabloid.
Beeld – largest Afrikaans daily
Mail & Guardian – weekly, operates Mail & Guardian online
Business Day – daily
Financial Mail – business weekly
Sunday Times/The Times – oldest Sunday newspaper; publishes subscription-only daily
News24 – online news


SABC – state broadcaster, operates three national TV networks, two pay-TV channels. – free-to-air, commercial; also operates news network eNCA
M-Net – pay-TV, pan-African audience


SABC – state broadcaster with regional and national services in multiple languages, including: English-language SAfm; music station 5 FM; Afrikaans station Radio Sonder Grense; Zulu station Ukhozi FM; Sesotho station Lesedi FM.
Channel Africa – SABC’s pan-African external radio
YFM – popular Johannesburg commercial R&B, soul and hip-hop station
702 Talk Radio – Johannesburg commercial news and talk station

News agency

African News Agency – news and content syndication service

Media data source: BBC

Internet Data

Internet users
72.3% penetration, 43.48 million

Share of web traffic by device
79.04% mobile phones, 19.72% computers (laptops and desktops), 1.22% tablet devices, others 0.02%

Median speed of mobile Internet connection
36.70 Mbps

Median speed of fixed Internet connection
40.12 Mbps

Mobile connection as a percentage of total population

Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G)

Most popular web search engines
Google (94.06%), Bing (4.55%), Petal Search (0.71%), Yahoo! (0.25%), Ananzi (0.22%), other (0.2%).

Most used social media
Facebook (66.66%), Instagram (10.25%), Pinterest (9.55%), Twitter (9.09%), YouTube (2.91%), LinkedIn (0.79%), Tumblr (0.43%), other (0.36%).

Internet data sources: Datareportal/Statcounter

Social statistics

Life expectancy
62 yrs (2021)

Current health expenditure
8.58% of GDP (2020)

Current education expenditure
96.5% of total expenditure in public institutions

Cultural Curiosities
Every ethnic group has its own little cultural norms, some, for example, consider it impolite to make gestures with the left hand or to receive things with one hand only. Some cultures, completely different in their customs, in Zulu, for example, it is important to announce your arrival shouting your name before even entering the house, but you must be seated by the host, whereas in the Sotho culture it is mannerly to immediately sit yourself when entering a foreign environment. 

Corruption perceptions Index
South Africa scored 43 out of 100, ranked 72 out 180 countries worldwide.

CO2 emissions
6.7 metric tons per capita.

Graduates (tertiary education)
Educational attainment is still low in South Africa. In 2018, over half (59%) of 25–64 year-olds in South Africa had attained an upper secondary education as the highest level achieved, well above the G20 average of 32% and the OECD average of 38%, while 26% had not attained upper secondary education. However, attainment has been increasing, particularly since the implementation of the South African School Act in 1996 making education compulsory for children aged 7 to 15. Between 2008 and 2018, the share of young adults (25-34 year olds) without upper secondary education fell from 27% to 18%, with 77% of young adults having an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary qualification in 2018. (2019)

World Happiness Index
South Africa ranked 91 out of 146 countries, with a score of 5.194.

Social statistics sources: WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF

The Data Factbook is a work in progress project. Our community is helping us to fill it up always with new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write your advices at

Languages research

Main languages families in South Africa


  • Afrikaans

  • English

  • Northern Sotho

  • Sesotho

  • Southern Ndebele

  • Swazi

  • Tsonga

  • Tswana

  • Venda

  • Xhosa

  • Zulu

  • Uninhabited

The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to

Photo credit: Jacques Nel, Unsplash