Facebook user growth rates in Africa (June 2010 – December 2011)
Socialbakers updates a list of Facebook user data by country on a daily basis (pulled from Facebook’s advertising page). However, the public data only goes back 6 months. Fortunately, we saved a copy of the data from Internet World Stats in July 2010, thus allowing us today to examine just how many Africans have adopted Facebook from 2010 to near-present.
As stated earlier this week, we don’t find the ratio of Facebook to Internet users to be accurate based on what data is available from the ITU. However, the number of Facebook users appears more accurate (but not without its flaws). After all, Facebook’s profile information is essentially a survey in itself. When prompted upon signup, most users provide a country of residence. Of course, addresses aren’t validated so there is no way of knowing exactly who lives where. For example, many Diasporans list their birth nation in their account – herein lies the cloudiness of the Facebook data. Still, empirical evidence suggests most users are honest when listing their geographic location, but there are probably more Facebook users than the data suggests.
Facebook adoption in Africa, although rapidly increasing within most nations at the moment, is starting to slow in more developmentally-advanced countries. Even if Facebook user growth rates settle at 25% annually, it could be ten years until Kenya boasts 30% of the population on Facebook. In 17 months, Kenya’s Facebook user rate has gone from 2% to 3%. South Africa’s is near 10% after increasing from 7%. This growth rate of 50% over 17 months for Kenya and South Africa – which we deem “mature” – suggests the challenges large nations face providing affordable Internet and connecting rural areas. Plus, even when Internet access is available, not everyone wants to use Facebook.
Also, relatively high Facebook adoption rates in North Africa and South Africa skew the mean. The median more accurate describes the share of Africa on Facebook.
- 37+ million Facebook users as of December 2011
- 165% median Facebook user growth since July 2010 (114% mean)
- 2.4% median Facebook penetration rate (3.6% mean)
- 36 nations have fewer than 1-in-20 people on Facebook
- 12 nations have fewer than 1-in-100 people on Facebook
Note: No data exists for Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, South Sudan, Sudan, Western Saharan, and Zimbabwe. Reunion and Djibouti lacked data in 2010.
Largest number of Facebook users:
No surprises here – a large population almost always means a large number of Facebook users. Ethiopia is the key exception (as a result of limited online freedom of speech, among other factors).
- Egypt (9.4mm)
- South Africa (4.8mm)
- Nigeria (4.4mm)
The three nations with fewest users are the island nations of Sao Tome and Principe, Mayotte, and Comoros – all with small populations.
Highest Facebook user rates:
Tunisia ranks high in terms of Internet penetration, so it’s no surprise the nation tops the Facebook penetration rate list. Plus, the uprising in 2010-11 attracted hundreds of thousands of new Facebook users. Small island nations inherently have high Facebook adoption rates due to higher population densities (ie. less need to heavily invest to reach remote/rural areas).
- Tunisia (26%)
- Reunion (25%)
- Mauritius (23%)
- Seychelles (22%)
- Cape Verde (15%)
Lowest Facebook user rates:
The nations with the lowest Facebook user rates are typically the same that have the lowest Internet penetration rates on the continent. After all, Facebook requires the Internet to function. Growth rates for these nations are strong, however.
- Niger (0.3%)
- Burundi (0.3%)
- Eritrea (0.3%)
- Chad (0.4%)
- Guinea (0.4%)
Many nations in this group have gone from a couple thousand Facebook users to a few tens of thousands in the past 17 months. Still, despite such high growth, these nations still have relatively few Facebook users – none has more than 2.7% of the population using Facebook. Facebook hardly existed in these nations before 2010, but now has a modest presence, at least per African nations. Interesting is now neighbors Central African Republic and Chad top the list.
- Central African Republic (4,000%)
- Chad (2,400%)
- Somalia (2,100%)
- Equatorial Guinea (1,800%)
- Dem. Rep. of Congo (1,400%)
Nations with low Facebook user growth can be considered mature in terms of Facebook usage. In other words, these nations had decent infrastructure in 2010 that allowed a large share of those who wanted to use Facebook to do so immediately.
- Mauritius (34%)
- Mayotte (40%)
- Kenya (50%)
- Seychelles (50%)
- South Africa (51%)
Movers and shakers:
Compared with other African nations (to add perspective), how did a nation’s Facebook user rate grow over the 17 month period?
- Equatorial Guinea moved from #40 to #22 (-18)
- Central African Republic from #41 to #24 (-17)
- Namibia from #21 to #12 (-9)
- DRC from #42 to #33 (-9)
- Congo from #35 to #28 (-7)
Although all nations showed positive growth in numbers of Facebook users, some nations’ Facebook user rates fell in comparison to others.
- Uganda went from #23 to #36 (+13)
- Togo from #26 to #34 (+8)
- Lesotho from #22 to #30 (+8)
- Rwanda from #27 to #35 (+8)
- Malawi from #34 to #42 (+8)
|Country||Facebook Users (Jul 10)||Facebook Rate (Jul 10)||Facebook Users (Dec 11)||Facebook Rate (Dec 11)||Growth (17 mo.)|
|Central African Republic||3,040||0.1%||123,800||2.5%||3972%|
|Sao Tome and Principe||760||0.4%||3,320||1.8%||337%|