, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Kenya is the second most active country on social networking site Twitter in Africa, with 2,476,800 tweets posted in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to new research released on Thursday.
South Africa led the pack with 5,030,226 tweets in the same period as revealed by the new study dubbed How Africa Tweets. It analysed over 11.5 million geo-located Tweets across the continent.
Other countries evaluated were Nigeria that came in third with 1,646,212 tweets followed closely by Egypt at 1,214,062 and Morocco with 745,620 tweets.
Youth tweeting on mobile phones were also found to be the main drivers of Twitter’s growth in Africa, with 60 percent of the continent’s most active tweeters between the ages of 20 and 29.
As the fastest-growing mobile market in the world, Africa has grown almost 20 percent each year for the past five years; such statistics are evident in the number of tweets sent via mobile devices standing at 57 percent.
In Kenya alone handset purchases increasing by more than 200 percent after the government abolished the 16 percent general sales tax on mobile handsets in 2009.
A GSM Association report on Africa’s mobile phone industry expects there will be more than 735 million subscribers by the end of 2012.
How Africa Tweets polled 500 of Africa’s most active tweeters, 81 of whom said they mainly used the social networking service to communicate with friends, while 60 percent said they used it to monitor news and another 22 percent used Twitter for employment opportunities.
In general, African Twitter users were active across a range of social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
The study was conducted by communications consultancy firm Portland Communications and UK based media platform Tweetminster carrying out a pan-African analysis of Twitter traffic over the last three months of 2011.
Portland’s Partner for Digital Communications Mark Flanagan noted that the marked absence of business and political leaders from Twitter was a surprising finding adding that it was a necessary mode of communication to engage the public.
“With some notable exceptions, we found that business and political leaders were largely absent from the debates playing out on Twitter across the continent. As Twitter lifts off in Africa, governments, businesses and development agencies can really no longer afford to stay out of a new space where dialogue will increasingly be taking place,” he said.
How Africa Tweets found that Twitter is helping to form new links within Africa, with the majority of those surveyed saying that at least half of the Twitter accounts they follow are based on the continent.