Young people in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco lead Tweeting on the African continent, a new research – How Africa Tweets – published by Portland in Nairobi on Thursday has said.
Nairobi Kenya-based Portland Communications and Tweetminster analysed over 11.5 million geo-located Tweets originating from the continent during the last three months of 2011, revealing that South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are the most active tweeting countries in the continent.
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, the most populous African country with 160 million inhabitants was the third most active during the period with 1,646,212 tweets. Egypt (1,214,062) and Morocco (745,620) make up the remainder of the top five most active countries.
Nigeria may have had a spike in its active twitter usage within the month of January following the Occupy Nigeria protest which depended heavily on twitter for mobilization and information sharing. But the research predates the Occupy Nigeria movement.
Young people thing
Young people Tweeting from Blackberries and iPhones are driving the growth of Twitter in Africa, according to the report.
“Sixty percent of Africa’s most active Tweeters are aged 20-29,” below the global average of 39, the Portland research said. “57% of Tweets from Africa are sent from mobile devices.”
The research noted that Twitter in Africa is widely used for social conversation and is fast becoming an important source of information. The pan-African analysis of Twitter traffic was complemented by a survey of 500 of Africa’s most active Tweeters.
“Eighty-one percent of those polled saying that they mainly used it for communicating with friends,” they said. “68 percent of those polled said that they use Twitter to monitor news” and “22 percent use it to search for employment 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 follow are based on the continent.
“We saw the pivotal role of Twitter in the events in North Africa last year, but it is clear that Africa’s Twitter revolution is really just beginning,” Beatrice Karanja, Associate Director and head of Portland Nairobi, says. “Twitter is helping Africa and Africans to connect in new ways and swap information and views. And for Africa – as for the rest of the world – that can only be good.”
The research predates Nigeria’s recent revolution but true to the research findings, twitter played a major role in the Occupy Nigeria protest.
The surprise finding of the research is that more African public figures have not joined the continent’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,” Mark Flanagan, Portland’s Partner for Digital Communications, said. “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.”
Among noted Twitter users are President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Both Kenyan military and extremist Somali Islamist group, both locked in a war currently, also use Twitter to taunt each other and trade accusations and insults.
In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has a representative on Twitter and many of his cabinet members use twitter regularly to argue policies with young and engaging Nigerians.