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SA leads Africa's growing Twittersphere

27 January 2012

Young people tweeting from mobile devices are driving the growth of Twitter in Africa, with South Africans leading the way as the social networking site becomes an increasingly important information tool across the continent, new research has found.

According to How Africa Tweets, a study released by Kenya-based Portland Communications on Thursday, South Africa is the most active country in the continent's burgeoning "Twittersphere".

In the first attempt to comprehensively map the use of Twitter in Africa, Portland teamed up with UK-based company Tweetminster to analyse over 11.5-million geo-located Tweets originating on the continent during the last three months of 2011, complemented by a poll of 500 of Africa's most active tweeters.

Over the survey period, South Africa registered over twice as many tweets (5030226) as the next most active country, Kenya (2476800), followed by Nigeria (1646212), Egypt (1214062) and Morocco (745620).

African tweeters younger

How Africa Tweets found that Africa's tweeters are considerably younger than their global counterparts: 60% of the continent's most active tweeters are aged 20-29, whereas the average age of Twitter users worldwide (according to Royalpingdom.com) is 39.

The researchers also found that:

  • 57% of tweets from Africa are sent from mobile devices.
  • At the same time, African Twitter users are also active across a range of social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Twitter in Africa is widely used for social conversation, with 81% of those polled saying that they mainly used it for communicating with friends.
  • But Twitter is also becoming an important source of information in Africa. 68% of those polled said that they use Twitter to monitor news, while 22% said they use it to search for job opportunities.

Forming new links in Africa

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

Beatrice Karanja, head of Portland Nairobi, said in a statement: "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.

"Twitter is helping Africa and Africans to connect in new ways and swap information and views," Karanja said. "And for Africa as for the rest of the world that can only be good."

SAinfo reporter

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