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Social networks penetration in Africa

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In the European and American business context, the task of sending out information and digital marketing with the focus on social networks is mainstream, but is it the same story in Africa? Is the context favourable for investment in social networking campaigns in Africa, or, are there instead still drawbacks for us?

The recent report,  “DIGITAL 2019: GLOBAL DIGITAL YEARBOOK” published by We Are Social and Hootsuite gives us some pointers as to how to resolve these issues. In this article, our aim is to give a brief summary concerning the penetration of social networks in the different African regions.

Internet & Social Networks

The rolling out of the social networks in the African continent, and in the world in general, runs in proportion to access to internet. In the following table we can see a comparison of the penetration of internet and the social networks in the different regions of Africa, set against data for other regions which can provide us with a point of reference:

Region Internet penetration Social networks penetration


36% 17%

Worldwide average



Northern Africa



Western Africa



Central Africa



Eastern Africa



Southern Africa



Western Europe



South America



[Comparison of social network penetration and Internet penetration in different world regions.]

We can see that while internet and social network penetration is approaching the worldwide average value in the north of Africa (45%), and is also heading in this direction in the south of Africa, the central and eastern regions are much more limited.

A cross section comparison of various countries shows that in Egypt and South Africa the penetration is 10%, in Ghana it is 19%, in Kenya it is 16% and in Nigeria it is 12%. These are quite low values in comparison with the data for America (76% for Argentina, 70% in the USA, 68% in Colombia, 67% in Mexico or 66% in Brazil) or with Europe (72% for Sweden, 65% for Belgium or 60% for Spain).

Social networks penetration

Despite these differences with the data at a global level, what is clear is that these values are growing, and that there will be more and more penetration for the social networks in the African continent, with an increase of 13% from January 2018 to January 2019, considerably above 9% (worldwide growth in social network users) and far above the average in America (3.8%) and Europe (3.2%).

Among the countries with greatest growth in 2019, we find that more than half of the top 20 worldwide are African countries, led by Western Sahara, which has grown 364% in this last year:


Users Percentage growth

Western Sahara






Burkina Faso +380,000



+130,000 +38%
Comoros +40,000



+800,000 +30%
Zambia +500,000


Sierra Leone



South Africa

+5 000,000





Nigeria +5,000,000


[Relative growth in number of users on social networks in 2019 compared to the previous year.]

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