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Most telecom operators in Africa are now on Twitter

March 29, 2013  »  BusinessNo Comment

Telecommunications business in Africa is huge. Revenues are in the tens of billions of dollars annually. Scores of new mobile customers sign up daily in every country. Although the largest markets (ie. Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt) often dominate in terms of online presence, operators in smaller markets are trying to form just as strong relationships with customers.

africa-telecom-twitter-2013

New Twitter accounts from March 2012-13

In fact, nearly every telecommunications company with African operations has a Twitter account. Not only does a social media account provide a news outlet, but it also provides an interface for customer support. A challenge is the inherent negative nature of customer feedback – complaints often outweigh compliments – but operators keep their tone upbeat. Another barrier for engagement is a lack of Internet users to even find the account in the first place. Twitter accounts representing mobile operators in smaller markets often have fewer than 100 followers despite a customer base in the hundreds of thousands.

We started following all of Africa’s telecom operators in 2011 when we created a Twitter list to keep track of their activity. At the time, only half of the 150+ mobile operators had a Twitter account. As of March 2013, however, nearly all telecoms in Africa have a active social media presence. Key nations without a mobile operator on Twitter come as little surprise and either have extremely low Internet penetration rates or have telecom monopolies: CAR, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Swaziland.

In the past year, we’ve found 36 mobile operators with new Twitter accounts. Many handles were created simply to have a presence but are not actively engaging with customers. Accordingly, they have very few followers. Another reason for lack of followers is a lack of users paying for data services. Most telecom accounts created in the past year have fewer than 100 followers (the median number is 55). They are right to be proactive in addressing customers’ needs, but the engagement is just surprisingly low. Competition likely plays a role here – at least having a social media account builds brand credibility.

CountryTwitter HandleCreation DateFollowers
Comoros@comorestelecom03/16/138
Malawi@TNMmalawi02/08/1311
Chad@Tigo_Tchad (changed acct)01/28/138
Madagascar@GroupeTelma01/24/13103
Mali@Orange_Mali01/08/1324
South Africa@TelkomZA01/08/131518
Uganda@K2Telecom01/02/1310
South Sudan@GemtelGreenn11/26/1212
Somalia@hormuud1211/21/120
Sudan@MTNSudan1 (changed acct)11/15/12495
Namibia@MTCNamibia11/11/12167
Burundi@EconetBurundi11/02/1282
Burkina Faso@telecelfaso10/23/126
Ghana@ExpressoGhana10/05/1245
Uganda@SmileComsUG10/04/12796
Tanzania@TTCL_TANZANIA10/02/1246
Cote d'Ivoire@CI_Orange09/21/12834
Niger@CombaryAmadouM08/30/121
Benin@MTNBenin08/29/12222
Reunion@SFR_Reunion08/16/1244
Benin@GloMobileBenin08/07/1217
Sierra Leone@AfricellSalone08/07/1230
DRC@orangerdc07/05/12239
Zimbabwe@netonezimbabwe06/21/1246
Somalia@HaatifTelecom06/02/122
Mozambique@mcel8205/24/122663
Madagascar@orange_mg05/15/12342
DRC@airteldrc05/14/1221
Tanzania@airtel_tanzania05/14/121398
Ghana@GhanaGlo05/12/12104
Angola@UNITEL_Angola05/11/1221
Lesotho@vodacomlesotho05/11/1263
Mali@MalitelMali05/10/12249
Gabon@Airtel_GA05/03/12114
Niger@AirtelNiger05/03/1235
Gambia@AfricellGambia04/17/12112
Uganda@Uganda_Telecom04/12/12767
Cote d'Ivoire@Moov_CIV04/06/12663
Rwanda@airtelrw03/27/12926
Burkina Faso@AirtelBurkina03/22/12133
Chad@airteltchad03/22/1226
Congo@airtel_congob03/22/1229
Malawi@Airtel_Mw03/22/12212
Seychelles@Airtel_SC03/22/1212
Sierra Leone@Airtel_SL03/22/1245
Uganda@Airtel_Ug03/22/1210422

Please view our Twitter list of all telecom operators offering service to African markets for the latest updates! The list follows 140+ telecom operators.

PS. The Wikipedia page List of mobile network operators of the Middle East and Africa does a good job showing key companies operating in each African country.