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In 2008, an article on socialmediatoday.com titled “Why Social Media in South Africa Will Fail”, made a rather daring assertion:
…social media and social media marketing and social media strategy is an almost pointless pursuit for businesses in South Africa…
Perhaps the image projected of Africa may, in times past, have led one to believe that there are other more pressing issues to deal with in Africa. I mean, this is Africa we’re talking about, there’s hunger and disease to be dealt with before we can consider the social media as something of significance to the continent, right?
Well, that may have been an argument one could have made in times past, however, data shows that Africa is a really dynamic market for social networking. In fact, numbers from socialbakers.com from earlier this year suggest that as far as the world’s most popular social networking platform, Facebook, goes, Africa is gaining users rapidly:
What is interesting in the table is that Africa is the most dynamic continent on Facebook gaining more than 50 percent of its Facebook users in the last six months! Top raising countries on this continent are well, not surprisingly, Egypt (+1,6 million new users, +43 percent change), Nigeria(+1,4 million new users, +83 percent change) and South Africa (+750 000 new users, 25 percent change).
In fact, Facebook is quite the phenomenon in Africa. The continent’s youth are taking to Facebook in droves.
In the same year, 2008, Jonathan Gosier, a leading figure in technology in Africa also wrote an article on ReadWriteWeb taking an opposing stand to the idea of social media being pointless to the larger African context. Gosier writes:
Contrary to popular belief, Africa is not completely absent from the Internet. In fact, the continent at large is undergoing a connectivity revolution unlike anything it has ever seen.
A recent study in East Africa provides further evidence of just how tuned in the region’s youth are to social networking.
Of course the convergence between a highly enlightened generation (what is commonly referred to as the cheetah generation), uptake of mobile telephony and improved connectivity have played a large part in this growth. In fact, according to research from Frost and Sullivan and Colibria, mobile social networks will grow ten fold to over 500-million users in Latin America and Africa in the next five years.
The cheetah generation is using social media to revolutionise the continent — socially, economically and even politically. Governments have had to wake up as the young generation has literally over-turned governments by leveraging social media, the cases of Egypt and Tunisia are still fresh in the minds of many.
Mark Davies about trade and the potentials of online social networks in Africa