New research: How Africans are using Twitter

Micro-blogging platform Twitter is growing in popularity on the African continent, with users from South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco leading the pack.

Communications company Portland, in association with Tweetminster, recently released a map of Twitter use in Africa. To produce the map, over 11.5 million Tweets hailing from the continent were analysed. Five-hundred of Africa’s most enthusiastic Twitter users were also surveyed.

It was found that South Africa is the most active African country on Twitter. Total tweets from South Africa were over 5 million in the last three months of 2011. This is more than double the number of tweets from Kenya (2,476,800) during the same period. Nigeria (1,646,212), Egypt (1,214,062) and Morocco (745,620) made up the remainder of the top five most active countries.

It is interesting to note that the number of tweets from the five countries, don’t correspond to the total internet users in each of the territories. For example, Nigeria has far more internet users than South Africa, but South Africans are much more active on Twitter.

Internet users 30 June 2011 Source: Internet World Stats
CountryInternet users
South Africa6,800,000

Portland’s research found that 57% of tweets originating from Africa are sent from mobile phones. The research also shows that 60% of the continent’s most active Twitter users are aged 21 to 29.

Twitter in Africa is mainly used to communicate with friends, with 81% of respondents saying they use the service for social conversation. However, 68% also use Twitter to keep up to date with the news.

Unlike in developed countries, many of Africa’s more public figures are not very active on Twitter. “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,” said Mark Flanagan, Portland’s partner for digital communications.