Written by Tayo Elegbede - Nigeria
Facebook has released a report on its African market stating that over 120 million Africans are now active users of its platform. Not long ago,Twitter announced the extension of its self-service advertising platform to about 35 Africans countries while a Google, recently inaugurated a non-profit initiative on the continent.
If Facebook were a nation in Africa, it would be the second most populous country with a population of 120 million, following Nigeria.
Google and its many products are a daily essential for many global citizens, including Africans, who are online. Twitter is also spreading its wings over the continent's online populace.
Unarguably, this is the biggest season of digital and social media-oriented innovation and statistics in Africa. Thankfully too, social networking giant companies are taking advantage of the season.
In rhythm with the Africa rising phenomenon, Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social platforms are seeking to plant their steps on the continent. The interest is strong; the investments are getting bigger while commitments are looking valuable.
The jostle for a share of Africa's social media goldmine seems to be more dynamic than ever before due to the continent population, positioning and people factor which has translated into value and possibilities for social networking companies. It is interesting to note the advancing interest, investment and credentials of social networking platforms in Africa.
Africa has a population of over 1.1 billion people, representing 15 per cent of the world's population. According to the United Nations, it will rise to 4.2 billion by 2100.
By economic and social political positioning, Africa has a comparative advantage over other regions, as the continent has witnessed growth in its Gross Domestic Product in the last five years.
By 2025, the Internet space may likely contribute about $300bn to the continent's annual GDP, depicting the intrinsic value and prospect of social media on the continent.
These factors, among others, justify the jostle for Africa's social media territory by leading global networking platforms led by Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Facebook states, "Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya have 16.6 million daily active users on the platform while the three countries have 31.5 million monthly active users."
In the words of the Head of Facebook's African Office, Nunu Ntshingila, "At Facebook, we have a saying that we are only one per cent done. And this couldn't be truer for Facebook in Africa."
Twitter, in a bid to grow its user and business base on the continent, also extended its self-service platform to Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire and 30 other African countries, with the aim of helping small and medium-scale businesses to create and manage location-based adverts.
Google is not missing in the race for Africa's social space. The company recently inaugurated Google for non-profits in South Africa with the aim of assisting African non-governmental organisations to use the Internet and other technological tools to reduce IT costs, increase visibility/public awareness and communicate better with partners, donors and volunteers.
Undoubtedly, the jostle and bargain for Africa's social space will only get better given the right socio-political, economic and human conditions.
A look at the trends shaping Africa's digital and social media narratives reveals a growing indispensability of mobile tools, platforms and devices.
According to a recent report by We Are Social, Africa has over 900 million mobile connections.
These digital and social media advancements on the continent, underscore the growing trend cum potential of social networking on the continent.
Of Facebook's 120 active users in Africa, more than 80 per cent access the site from their mobile phones, accounting for 60 per cent of overall Internet users on the continent. About 100 per cent of Nigerian monthly users are active on mobile, just as 95 per cent of Kenya's monthly users.
A vast number of Twitter users are mobile-driven, accessing the platform either via phones or via tablets.
Mobile is the domineering trend in Africa's communication space, cutting across social media circles. It will continue to be until smarter innovations emerge.
While the social media space offers endless resources, opportunities and connectivity, it is necessary for users to act safely and responsibly, as social media now hold a critical part to everyday lifestyle.
Organisations now revert to social media to check prospective employees, partners and stakeholders before committing themselves to longer relationships. It is, therefore, necessary for social media users to self-regulate themselves and their platforms.
With the recent trends defining Africa's social media space, it is envisaged that the continent's human and social credentials will be boosted by innovative and positive use of social media tools and platforms.