Twitter grows in Africa

2011 was a landmark year for social media in Africa.  The growth and use of Twitter took off.

Twitter came of age in Africa in 2011, according to a study by Portland Communications and Tweetminster of geo-located tweets from the continent.

It found there were 11.5m African tweets recorded in the last quarter, with 57 percent sent from a mobile phone.

Of these, 40 percent were in English and the rest in other languages, dialects or slang.

Africa’s twitterati are largely young and middleclass, with 60 percent of users aged between 21 and 29 compared with the worldwide average age of 39.

Mark Flanagan, a partner at Portland, said his team noted that of the 4-5 million users, 81 percent used Twitter for social conversation whilst 68 used it to monitor news.

‘Revolution’ and ‘elections’ were the big hashtag trends of 2011.

Young activistsin Egypt used Twitter and Facebook to coordinate protests, while in South Africa the country’s ‘secrecy bill’ was a long-running  trend on Twitter towards the end of the year.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @EdmundBalina, LinkedIn and like our Facebook Page. The growth of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, etc shows the growing use of social media for a variety of uses such as networking.

According to the research:

– South Africa is the continent’s most active country by volume of geo-located Tweets, with over twice as many Tweets (5,030,226 during Q4 2011) as the next most active Kenya (2,476,800). Nigeria (1,646,212), Egypt (1,214,062) and Morocco (745,620) make up the remainder of the top five most active countries.

– 57% of Tweets from Africa are sent from mobile devices.

– 60% of Africa’s most active Tweeters are aged 20-29.

– Twitter in Africa is widely used for social conversation, with 81% of those polled saying that they mainly used it for communicating with friends.

– Twitter is becoming an important source of information in Africa. 68% of those polled said that they use Twitter to monitor news. 22% use it to search for employment opportunities.

– African Twitter users are active across a range of social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.

The research findings reveal that more public figures have not joined Africa’s burgeoning Twittersphere, although with some notable exceptions.

According to Mark Flanagan, Portland’s Partner for Digital Communications:

“We found that business and political leaders were largely absent from the debates playing out on Twitter across the continent. As Twitter lifts off in Africa, governments, businesses and development agencies can really no longer afford to stay out of a new space where dialogue will increasingly be taking place.”

The survey also found that Twitter is helping to form new links within Africa and the majority of those surveyed said that at least half of the Twitter accounts they follow are based on the continent.

The infographic below shows a comprehensive map on the use of Twitter in Africa.

Africa is a mobile-first continent. There are more people with phones than PCs.Twitter is widely used for social conversation, with four in five of those polled saying they mainly used it for communicating with friends. But more than two in three of those polled said they use Twitter to monitor news. More than one in four uses it to search for job opportunities.How Africa Tweets found that Twitter is helping to form new links within Africa. The majority of those surveyed said that at least half of the Twitter accounts they followed were based on the continent.But the companies behind the research said few African business and political leaders have joined the continent’s Twittersphere.

Mark Flanagan, Portland’s partner for digital communications, said: “One of the more surprising findings of this research is that more public figures have not joined Africa’s burgeoning Twittersphere.

“With some notable exceptions, we found that business and political leaders were largely absent from the debates playing out on Twitter across the continent. As Twitter lifts off in Africa, governments, businesses and development agencies can really no longer afford to stay out of a new space where dialogue will increasingly be taking place.”

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame is a notable exception when it comes to leaders’ Twitter abstinence, as is South African president Jacob Zuma, although his most recent post was on 8 January. “It feels good to be here in Mangaung,” it reads. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. The ANC is great.”

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @EdmundBalina, LinkedIn and like our Facebook Page.

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