How Africa Tweets – 2015

An interesting study has just been published into tweeting in Africa by Portland – an international private communications and public affairs consultancy with offices in Doha, London, Nairobi, New York, Nairobi and Washington.  It offers some interesting insights into social media trends in Africa

The study analysed the top 5,000 hashtags of some 1.6 billion specific ‘geo-located’ tweets originating from Africa during 2015 and explores the most popular themes and languages.


5 items stand out in the study:

  • Twitter use is on the rise in Africa: as anyone who has young Egyptian friends already knows, Egypt tweets the most out of any country 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) make up the top 5 tweeting African countries. Overall, there were 1.6 billion geolocated tweets in Africa in 2015 – a 34-fold increase from an initial study in 2012.
  • Entertainment is top of the Twitter tweets but politics is on the rise: Tweets about showbiz and popular culture dominated last year, representing over 20% 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% of hashtags in the US and UK
  • Domestic issues transcend borders: the report suggests a coming together of Africans across boundaries to comment on and discuss common issues offering multiple opportunities for organisations and activists wanting to access this segment of the African demographic.
  • English is the Twitter lingua franca: English is by far the most dominant language of the top 5,000 hashtags analysed, with 77% tweeted in English. Other top languages such as Arabic and French were featured significantly less – only 7% and 4% respectively
  • Commercial use of Twitter has yet to penetrate: Twitter in Africa is used much less for commercial campaigns and agendas 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 US, for example.

The full report also consists of 12 case studies and an interactive infographic, which offer some (limited) insight on topical issues such as like how Twitter fuels debate on terrorism in Africa, the Ebola emergency, economic development and more.

The interactive graphic and the case studies can be explored on how #AfricaTweets via