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Africa

Joburg, football and Mandela: how Africa tweets [Infographic]

Africa

Stuart Thomas: Motorburn Editor
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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By now, you’re probably familiar with a couple of important stats around Africa, such as the fact that the continent has a population of over one-billion people, around half of whom are under the age of 25 or that it’s home to six out of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. But how do we much about how it tweets?

Well, thanks to research from strategic communications agency Portland we can at least get a clearer idea of what Africans were tweeting about during the last three months of 2013. The data, which the company took from all the geo-tagged tweets during the period, looks at which cities are the most active, what languages are being used the most and what issues are driving the conversation online.

According to Portland, Johannesburg, South Africa is the most active city in Africa when it comes to tweeting with 344 215 geo-located tweets, followed by Ekurhuleni (264 172), Cairo (227 509), Durban (163 019) and Alexandria (159 534).

Those numbers might seem a little low given that research companies World Wide Worx and Fuseware estimate there to be around 5.5-million Twitter users in South Africa, who send out 54-million tweets a month.

In all likelihood though, that’s down to the fact that Portland is only measuring geo-tagged tweets and a large proportion of Twitter users have geo-tagging turned off by default.

We can, nonetheless, get a pretty good idea of what people were talking about during the period as geo-tagging isn’t likely to be a key differentiator when it comes to the content of what is being posted on Twitter.

Given the prominence of Nelson Mandela, and the global attention his death received, it should hardly be surprising that it saw the highest number of geo-tagged tweets in 2013.

Football is however the most-discussed topic on Twitter in Africa. The most mentioned football team was Johannesburg’s Orlando Pirates, with popular hashtags including #BlackisBack, #PrayForOrlandPirates and #OperationFillOrlandoStadium.

Linguistically, English, French and Arabic are the most common languages on Twitter in Africa, accounting for 75.5% of the total tweets analysed. Zulu, Swahili, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Portuguese are
the next most commonly tweeted languages on the continent.

Portland’s research also suggests Tuesdays and Fridays are the most active tweeting days and that Twitter activity rises steadily through the afternoon and evening, with peak volumes around 9pm.

HAT infographic

Click for full size