How Africa Tweets 2016

Portland analysed the top 5,000 hashtags of 1.6 billion geo-located tweets originating from Africa during 2015, as part of our third “How Africa Tweets” report. The study dives deeper into Twitter use on the continent to explore the most popular themes and languages.

Here are some of our most intriguing findings to come out of our in depth report:

  • Entertainment is top of the Twitter pops, but politics is on the rise: Tweets about showbiz and popular culture dominated the conversation last year, representing over 20 per cent of all hashtags. However, almost 1 in 10 of the most popular African hashtags in 2015 related to political issues and politicians, compared to only 2 per cent of hashtags in the US and UK.
  • Domestic issues transcend borders: “Excitingly, our report also hints at the coming together of Africans across boundaries to comment on and discuss common issues. How to successfully engage with these emerging pan-African online communities represents a challenge for all brands and organisations seeking to build their presence in this space,” says Allan Kamau, who leads Portland’s Nairobi office.
  • English is the Twitter lingua franca: It is by far the most dominant language of the top 5,000 hashtags that we analysed, with 77% tweeted in English. Other top languages like Arabic and French were featured significantly less – only 7% and 4% respectively.
  • Commercial noise on Twitter is reduced to a background hum: Twitter in Africa is used distinctly less for commercial campaigns than in other parts of the world. Commercial hashtags (such as brand names and promotional offers) are 25 times less prominent in Africa than in the USA, for example.
  • Twitter use on the rise in Africa: Egypt tweets the most out of any country in Africa, with 28% of all geolocated Twitter volume (amounting to 500 million tweets). Nigeria (360 million geolocated tweets), South Africa (325 million geolocated tweets), Kenya (125 million geolocated tweets) and Ghana (70 million geolocated tweets) round out the top five tweeting African countries. Overall, there were 1.6 billion geolocated tweets in Africa in 2015 – a 34-fold increase from our initial research in 2012.

The report also consists of 12 case studies and an interactive infographic, which both give fresh insight on polemical topics, like how Twitter ignites debate on terrorism in Africa, the Ebola emergency crisis response, economic development and more.

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