Social media in Cameroon is bustling, blogging less so
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s Central Africa Office in Yaoundé has commissioned a research report on the use of social media in Cameroon. From it we can find basics about who uses social media in the country.
Cameroon is bustling with online activity yet often flies under the radar due to attention on neighboring powerhouse Nigeria. For one, Cameroon’s rate of internet access is much lower than Nigeria – something like 10% vs. 35%. Still, the level of ICT usage in Cameroon is high compared to other nations in West-Central Africa like Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, and DR Congo. The fact that the majority of users write in French prevents some local content from reaching a larger global audience that skews heavily English. This doesn’t mean that bloggers shouldn’t write away; empowering the national community is a top priority.
Researchers began by reviewing the current state of blogs, LinkedIn groups, Facebook communities, and the Twitter landscape in Yaoundé and Douala. Next, they interviewed key online players and determined how to encourage more Cameroonians engage in online discussions.
A summary of the results are presented in a 39-slide presentation stored on Google Drive.
- Facebook is not only the most popular social media tool but some groups (Culture et tradition Bamelike) have more than 20,000 followers. It’s unclear how many of these members are located in Cameroon and how many live abroad. Still, Facebook Cameroun has over 19,000 members and two other groups have over 10,000 as well. These groups still pale in size to groups from other countries though.
- Reportedly 24% of Cameroonian internet users have subscribed to LinkedIn (3% in Nigeria). The data appears questionable, but this would equate to 1% of Cameroon’s population as being on LinkedIn.
- Twitter activity is concentrated in Douala and Yaoundé but is becoming more popular. Research by Portland Communications (“How Africa Tweets“) found Douala to rank in the top 10 African cities by tweet volume at the end of 2013.
- The most popular Cameroonian Twitter accounts include Afrikeo News (7,400 followers), President Paul Biya’s PR (6,900 followers), and 237online.com (4,800 followers)
- Blogging is less common than Facebook or Twitter but quality is aided by the “Collectif des Blogueurs Camerounais.” At least 30 active blogs discuss life in Cameroon. Still, researchers could not determine the level of collaboration among bloggers.
- A survey of 36 Cameroonian social media users found nearly half to be between the age of 36 and 50. Half read social media daily and one-third update daily. Facebook is seen as the most important network with Twitter and blogs greatly lagging. Social media is most commonly used for professional purposes and for reading the news. Entertainment was not commonly cited as being consumed through social media.
- Factors limiting greater adoption of social media include costs, lack of ICT infrastructure, censorship, and poor legislation.
- Mobile money is beginning to emerge and has the opportunity to bolster social media. So do online tools like petitions and crowdsourcing. Business models need to provide bloggers a financial incentive to continue their activities.