Top 18 African Heads of State on Twitter: it’s a mixed bag

Wondering which African Heads of State are big on Twitter in 2017? We have the answer for you in this blog post, where we picked the top 18 based on Twitter followers as at 7 July.

We are using old-fashioned spreadsheets to present the results for numbers of  Twitter followers as a constant, compared to five different variables.


Twitter Follower count of top 18 African Heads of State

Here they are:

Our analysis shows that President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, where presidential elections are taking place as we publish this post and in which he is bidding for the second term of office, leads the top 18.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who won the presidential race by a landslide only days ago, is in the second spot.

3 Heads of State from East Africa are in the top 5 – Presidents Kenyatta (1), Kagame (2) and Museveni (5).

Heads of State from Nigeria and Egypt – Presidents Buhari and el-Sisi whose countries are also in the top 3 most populous in Africa – complete the top 5.

Most of the 18 Heads of State’s Twitter handles are verified, which confirms they are the correct accounts.


Age (Yrs)

Given the skew of social media to younger users generally, we analysed the ages of the top 18 Heads of State to see if this variable plays a role.

There does not seem to be a clear link – directly or inversely – between numbers of Twitter followers and ages of the top 18.

Togo’s Faure E. Gnassingbe is the youngest president, but he is also the second last in the top 18 by number of Twitter followers.

President Nkurunziza of Burundi – who was recently embroiled in a controversy related to the extension of his stay in office – is the second youngest Head of State, and is thirteenth by number of Twitter followers.

President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia is the oldest Head of State, but is on the fifteenth spot by number of Twitter followers.


RELATED POST: Can Uhuru Kenyatta’s Twitter popularity be used to support his Best President Award?


Tenure (Yrs)

Does tenure have anything to do with the top 18 Heads of State’s numbers of Twitter followers? Let’s check.

Overall, most of the Heads of State have been in office for less than 10 years. If the African states in the top 18 that are subscribing to the democratic rule observed the two-term presidency limit that is a cornerstone of this system, this would not be worth mentioning. However, this is not the case for the bottom 5 Heads by tenure, who are from the democratic states.

There does not seem to be a clear link between this variable and numbers of Twitter followers.



What about country locations of the top 18?

Most of the countries in the top 18 come from West Africa, followed by East Africa. Does this tell us anything? Leave a comment below.

The percentage of verified Twitter handles from the two leading regions makes for an interesting read. Check the table above to see what we mean.


Dominant foreign languages

Africa is dominated by two foreign languages – English and French. As a result, these 2 languages are used to divide the continent into mainly Anglophone countries (mainly East and Southern Africa) and Francophone countries (mainly Central and Western Africa).

What is the role of the two foreign languages in the Heads of State’s numbers of Twitter followers? Let’s find out!

Only 8 of the countries where the top 18 Heads of States come from speak English. However, it appears the largest Twitter follower numbers come from these 8 countries.


Country populations

The last variable we analyse is the country populations of top 18 Heads of State. Let’s have a look.

Here too, there is no clear evidence that sizes of African country populations are directly linked to the sizes of Heads of State’s Twitter followers, despite Nigeria and Egypt being at the top of the Populations table and their Heads of State in the top 5 by Twitter Followers.


Our conclusion

Analysis of the top 18 African Heads of State on Twitter indicates that some of the political leaders do not fully embrace social media, if at all. This could explain why President Mulatu Teshome of Ethiopia, the country with the second largest population on the continent, does not tweet.


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