In 2014, 100 million people were using Facebook each month across Africa, over 80% via mobile. That figure has now jumped to over 120 million.
Four and a half million of those Facebook users are based in Kenya, 15 million in Nigeria and 12 million in South Africa, in statistics first reported by Reuters.
Overall, around 9% of Africans use social media, with South Africans among the world leaders in time spent on social networks with an average of 3.2 hours a day, compared to a global average of 2.4 hours, according to data from marketing consultants We Are Social.
Changing the perception of Africa
Social media is now a daily part of life across the continent for a growing number of people.
“We discuss life, love, politics, philosophy, and all else one would expect,” says Mark Kaigwa, founder of African digital strategy consultancy Nendo.
But there’s something deeper being shared too.
“A big part of Africans online is the ‘corrective element’ of their sharing from the continent,” says Mark, highlighting the trend towards showing a side of Africa away form poverty and corruption, not always seen by the rest of the world.
“When Snapchat put Kenyan capital Nairobi on the world stage, showcasing the city’s users for 24 hours, the responses, as seen on Twitter were startling.
“Many Americans griped with the social network for not featuring other American cities, while the Kenyans were quick to put Americans expecting wildlife and wilderness in check.
“On Twitter, the ebb and flow of conversations such as #TheAfricaTheyNeverShowYou and the role of global media in its perception of the continent remains a great talking point.”
Social media in Africa is far from being all talk and no action, crowd funding campaigns are also widely shared.
“Africans do rally around causes that are important to them, including social causes,” says Kaigwa.
“In 2015, after a passionate appeal told poetically through a popular local blog, the #1MilliforJadudi campaign (reportedly) saw over $60,000 raised for a brain surgery of a cancer patient.”
Facebook might be liking it’s success at the moment, but there are newer networks snapping at its heels, including WeChat and WhatsApp.
“The war for messaging heats up,” says Kaigwa. “As more people come online, the battle for what messaging service they choose has telecoms companies getting more competitive on SMS, while instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger by Facebook and WeChat remain key.”