Mega-social network Facebook celebrates their 10th birthday this week, and what started as a college social networking website in 2004, has mushroomed into the world’s largest online destination to connect with friends, family and acquaintances.
“When I reflect on the last 10 years, one question I ask myself is: Why were we the ones to build this? We were just students. We had way fewer resources than big companies. If they had focused on this problem, they could have done it,” founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on the company’s website.
He added that “It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. It’s rare to be able to touch so many people’s lives, and I try to remind myself to make the most of every day and have the biggest impact I can.”
With over 50-million Facebook users in Africa, IT News Africa is taking a look at the top 10 countries in Africa with the largest number of citizens using the service – and some of the countries in the list will be completely unexpected.
1. Egypt – 13-million
Egypt is the king of Facebook in Africa. Showing an incredible amount of growth in the last few years, thanks in part to the recent uprisings, the country ranks number one with 13 010 580 users. The country added 3 million users in just under a year, and ranks 20th on globally. Its user numbers are similar to that of Australia, Taiwan and Japan. Despite ongoing socio-political turmoil in the country, technology remains a cornerstone of Egyptian society. The country’s telecommunications sector comprises several global service providers, including Etisalat Misr, Mobinil, Orascom Telecom and Vodafone, which focus on emerging business in Cairo. According to statistics published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in 2012, the percentage of individuals using the Internet stood at 44.07%, while there were reportedly 96 798 801 mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions in the same year.
2. South Africa – 9.4-million
Taking the second spot on the Top 10 list, just over 9.4-million South Africans are active users of the social networking site. Comparable in user numbers to Saudi Arabia, Romania and Ecuador, it ranks 32nd in the world. Some of the local Facebook pages with the most fans are comedian Trevor Noah with 1 134 369 fans, while soccer team Kaizer Chiefs boast 709 291 fans. South Africa also has 7.4 million Mxit users, and 5.5-million on Twitter.
3. Nigeria – 5.3-million
According to social media tracking firm Social Bakers, Nigeria is the third country in Africa with the most users, with roughly 5.365-million. Comparable in user numbers to Morocco, Ecuador and Belgium, it is the 35th biggest Facebook nation in the world. With the average Nigerian user being between the ages of 18 and 24. 66% are male while 34% are female.
4. Morocco – 5.2-million
Morocco isn’t a country that one would necessarily associate with having a large Facebook presence, yet more than 5-million of its 33-million population make use of the service – an increase of more than a million in just over a year. Morocco’s mobile penetration stands at over 100 percent and demand for bandwidth continues to grow, so much so that Morocco’s telecommunications regulator, ANRT, announced that it had instructed the country’s three mobile phone operators to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots for “the purpose of spreading broadband Internet use across the Kingdom. The country is also preparing to deploy LTE services next year.
5. Algeria – 4.3-million
The North African nation, with a population of just over 37-million, rings in the bottom half of the list, with 4 322 820 users on Facebook. With 68% being male and the average user being between 18 and 24 years old, the most popular local page is Educate Yourself with 1.2-million fans, while Spanish football team Real Madrid enjoys 1.1-million Facebook fans in Algeria. One of the largest mobile operators on the continent comes from Algeria – Orascom Telecom Algerie. It was launched in 2002 and trades under the name Djezzy in the country, and in 2012 had 16.5-million subscribers with 55.5% market share.
6. Tunisia – 3.4-million
With a population of just under 11-million, more than 30% of the nation is on Facebook – which is more than most African countries. The adult literacy rate in 2008 was 78%, and 75% of Tunisia’s Facebook users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Orange Tunisie currently enjoys more than 750 000 fans, while Tunisiana has 683 000 fans.
7. Kenya – 1.8-million
Kenya is one of the fast-growing African nations in terms of ICT growth, with a number of international undersea cables providing the country with the fastest broadband. With the massive increase in available bandwidth in the last couple of years, 1 886 560 citizens have flocked to Facebook. In what seems to be a trend among young people, the largest portion of Kenyan users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Safaricom Kenya is the brand with the most fans, with just over 600 000, while online classifieds website OLX Kenya has 335 000 fans.
8. Ghana – 1.4-million
Another up-and-coming powerhouse in terms of ICT growth, it is really no surprise to see Ghana on the list – although they could only muster third from last. With a population of 24-million, roughly 1 465 560 citizen are on Facebook, with 69% of them being male. The most popular brand is mobile operator Vodafone Ghana with 235 000 fans.
9. Democratic Republic of Congo – 891 140
The DRC almost completes the Top Ten list of countries on Facebook with just under a million of citizens on the social network. With the largest percentage of users within the 18 to 34 age bracket, the most popular brand on the site is mobile operator Tigo RDC with just over 200 000 fans, while mobile operator Vodacom RDC has 112 000 fans.
10. Senegal – 767 820
This small West African nation with a population of just over 13-millon, is the last country on IT News Africa’s Top Ten list of African users on Facebook. But don’t be fooled by their size and comparatively low Facebook users. In Senegal, the internet accounts for 3.3% of the GDP, earning the country a global ranking just behind that of the US. Access to mobile phones in the nation is at 98%, and technology giant Google last year sponsored a cybercafé to replace desktops with tablets. The most popular brand on Facebook in Senegal is Orange Sénégal l’officiel with over 140 000 fans, while mobile operator Tigo Senegal has just over 57 000 supporters on the service.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor