Twitter mirrors a very diverse Africa. Egypt is very serious on it, and in the rest of Africa the stars are not what you would ordinarily expect.
You would think that, given Africa’s high-stakes, cutthroat political arena, where a portrait of the president – as a symbol of his power – still adorns business premises and public offices, African presidents suffered the most loss of visibility on social media in the outage, because they are the most influential individuals on the continent. Not so, says Twitter.
Looking at the Africans with the most followers on Twitter – excluding companies and organisations – reveals that the attention of tweeting Africans is not on their political leaders, but on their musicians, comedians, models and sports stars.
Kenya, Rwanda odd men out
The only African countries in which the president is the personality who has the most followers on Twitter is Rwanda (Paul Kagame has 787,000 followers) and Kenya (Uhuru Kenyatta has 716,000 followers).
And, Burkina Faso, until recently, before they kicked Blaise Compaore out.
The African with the most followers on Twitter at 3.7 million is Egyptian satirist and TV host Dr Bassem Youssef. A former heart surgeon, he hosts the hugely popular Al-Bernameg satirical news show; in 2013, he was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
Egyptians make up nine of the top ten “most-followed” Africans on Twitter, dominated by political activists, politicians and civil society leaders.
That makes Egypt unique in Africa, underscoring just how much Egyptians are wired, and how big a role social media plays in driving Egyptian society – and perhaps also that social media thrives where there is repression.
The one non-Egyptian who edges into the top ten isn’t a musician, politician, model or footballer.
20-year-old South African Twitter king
He’s a 20-year-old South African named Caspar Lee with 2.32 million followers, who has built his celebrity status entirely on the Internet, posting short videos on YouTube.
His first video was in 2010 when he was aged 16, a funny video of himself in the bath talking in an exaggerated South African accent.
Today, he’s barely out of his teens, and his YouTube channel Caspar has 3.6 million subscribers and over 160 million video views.
French-speaking Africa tweets much less than Arabic and English-speaking Africa does, perhaps not so much because of the language per se but because of relatively poor communications infrastructure in Francophone Africa.
But one thing French-Africa does produces much of is internationally successful footballers, and so football stars tend to dominate their respective countries’ most followed lists, including Samuel Eto’o in Cameroon (729,000), Didier Drogba in Cote d’Ivoire (521,000), Frederic Kanoute in Mali (213,000) and Emmanuel Adebayor in Togo (137,000).
Even in Liberia, two football stars are the most followed on Twitter – Ola John, with 31,000 followers who plays for Benfica in Portugal, and Darlington Nagbe with 12,000 followers, who plays for Portland Timbers in the US’ Major League Soccer.
Source: Mail & Guardian Africa