News / Africa

Facebook Has Uncertain Future in Africa

Protesters hold
Protesters hold "f"s in recognition of social network site Facebook's role in the North African revolts, during a protest by thousands over civil rights, in Rabat, Morocco, March 2011.
Gabe Joselow

U.S. media reports say Facebook is set to make an initial public offering of stock that could peg the company's worth as high as $100 billion. While investors have been enticed by the social media company's rapid expansion, its future in Africa is unpredictable.

On the face of it, the numbers in Africa look promising. According to a recent study from the Internet research site oAfrica, the number of Facebook users across the continent increased 165 percent in the past 18 months.

Data from the Internet World Stats website show nearly 38 million Facebook users in Africa at the end of 2011, out of a population of about one billion.

But looking a little closer at the statistics, oAfrica notes that while new users signing on to the site are increasing across Africa as a whole, the numbers are less impressive in the most developed countries.

In Kenya, which has the third-largest number of Facebook users in sub-Saharan Africa, behind South Africa and Nigeria, only 10 percent of the population uses the Internet, and three percent are on Facebook.

The country boasts one of the strongest economies in East Africa, and mobile phone networks that offer Internet access to those in the most remote places.

Alex Maina, a social media consultant and the CEO of the Africa Center for Internet Marketing in Nairobi, said Kenyans initially went on Facebook because their phone services promoted it, but that times are changing.

“So yes, the growth of Facebook, in Kenya especially, is very fast, its extremely fast, but the question is for how long. Africans are naturally conservative even if you want to do a lot of stuff, but naturally you are conservative," he said. "I can not imagine going to put all my pictures on Facebook so that other people can see them. That now has become like the clarion call on Facebook social networking looks like a nice thing, but how come businessmen are moving from Facebook and they're all going to LinkedIn?”

LinkedIn, Badoo, GooglePlus and especially Twitter all are competing social media sites that are giving Facebook a run for its money in Kenya.

A recent report on Twitter usage in Africa found Kenyans were the second-most prolific tweeters on the continent, just behind South Africa.

Maina says most of his clients are seeking more exposure on Twitter, and that from a marketing perspective, it is clearly the way forward.

“The Twitter model is simple, very, very simple, very, very plain. Everybody can understand it and everybody loves it. So for me, that is probably the reason why I really don't consider a very long future for Facebook at the trend that it's going at. It will just plateau very soon,” said Maina.

Facebook's most explosive growth was reported in the least developed countries with the smallest percentages of Internet users, including the Central African Republic, Chad and Somalia.

Africans increasingly are logging in to social networking sites as more undersea cables and high-speed lines hook up previously underserved parts of the continent.

Facebook also served as an important platform for disseminating information during the Arab Spring revolutions in North Africa. The company acknowledged in a report two years ago that countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria were poised to become important markets.


You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs