Social media and networking sites like Facebook and MySpace were once seen as a place where pimple-faced youths gathered to share music and photos. But a radical change in perception and mindsets globally regarding social networking sites such as Twitter has attracted millions of users worldwide.The focus has shifted away from unruly youths and now businesses and professional individuals have flocked to social networks to engage with users, followers and fans.
A number of African presidents have also set up a virtual home on Twitter, and while some might not be as active as others, they still share their thoughts and feelings with those who follow them.
Jacob G. Zuma – President of South Africa
The South African president can be followed @SAPresident and is one of the few Verified By Twitter accounts in terms of African statesmen. He is not as vocal as some of his fellow African presidents and tweets about once a month on topics that affect the government.
Number of Tweets: 87
Followers: 125 364
Goodluck Jonathan – President of Nigeria
Nigeria’s outspoken president can be followed @JGoodlucktweets is more in tune with social media sites than Pres. Jacob Zuma. With 35 727 followers, he mainly tweets about government matters and the violence in the country. While his site if not a verified account by Twitter, it is rather clear that it is the statesman tweeting, as he often links back to his official Facebook page.
Number of Tweets: 105
Followers: 35 727
Paul Kagame – President of Rwanda
Out of all the African presidents on Twitter, Kagame is one of the most engaging on the micro-blogging site with over 2 000 tweets. He often personally answers questions posed to him on the site, and does not shy away from speaking his mind. While most presidents tend to stick to government matters, Kagame will often wish his followers a Happy Weekend or wish them luck with a particular venture. Kagame can be followed @PaulKagame.
Number of Tweets: 2 034
Followers: 63 047
Jakaya Kikwete – President of Tanzania
Just as with Pres. Jacob Zuma, Kikwete’s @jmkikwete Twitter account has actually been verified by Twitter as genuine. With over a 1 000 tweets, Kikwete also loves to engage with his followers, creating healthy debates and wishing them luck. He only follows two others on the site: January Makamba (Deputy Minister of Communication, Science & Technology), and the citizen-centered initiative Twaweza .
Number of Tweets: 1 056
Followers: 22 910
H.E. Professor John Evans Atta Mills (Presidency of Ghana) – President of the Republic of Ghana
President Mills doesn’t have a personal Twitter account, but stays relevant in the news with the Presidency of Ghana account. The account also uses his photograph as the profile pic, and added “H.E. Professor John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana was born at Tarkwa on July 21st, 1944” as the short biography. Pres. Mills, or the account holder, tweets a couple of message a day, and mainly engages in conversation surrounding government matters and decisions made by Pres. Mills. The Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, on the other hand, does have a personal Twitter account (@GhanaVeepJDM), and often corresponds with his followers.
Number of Tweets: 413
Followers: 2 320
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor