13% of Africa’s 54 countries contribute 66% to active Facebook users. And there is more.

This blog post was inspired by the most recent one I published, titled “What we can learn about Africa from the Digital 2019 report“. It is a sequel, if you like.

With Facebook is not only the king of all social networks, and it also the richest data in the Global Digital 2019 report. It made sense that I take a closer look at this behemoth on its own for deeper findings and insights for Africa.


Want to do a dipstick of Facebook performance in Africa?


If you want to know how Facebook is doing in Africa, all you need is analyse the performance of the top 7 African countries by this social network’s monthly active users. As these extracted stats from the global digital report show, this sample is highly representative:

PERCENT of a total of 54 African countries
PERCENT of the continent’s population
PERCENT of the continent’s Internet user base
PERCENT of the continent’s active Facebook user base

So, which are the top 7 countries in Africa by monthly active Facebook users?


Comparison of Internet and Facebook users in the top 7 countries in Africa reveals interesting dynamics


I shared a graph of the top 10 countries in Africa by number of monthly active Facebook users in the previous blog post.

Here are the top 7 African countries on Facebook, where monthly active users are compared to Internet users, as per the extracted data from the global digital report:

Comparison: Internet and Facebook Users in Top 7 Countries in Africa

Findings and insights:

  • 🔎Regionally; 4 of the 7 countries are in North Africa – 🇪🇬🇲🇦🇩🇿🇹🇳, 1 is in East Africa – 🇰🇪, 1 is in Southern Africa – 🇿🇦, and 1 is in West Africa – 🇳🇬. Can you identify these countries by their flags?
  • 🔎Tunisia has almost all its Internet users on Facebook (94%), followed by Algeria.
  • 🔎Nigeria and Kenya have the lowest numbers of Internet users on Facebook. More about Kenya in the next 2 sections.
  • 🔎7 out of every 10 Mzansi’s netizens (citizens with Internet access) are active on Facebook, and this social network behemoth is still showing growth – see two sections below.
    I have heard many South African social network butterflies say they have moved on from Facebook to greener pastures, especially Instagram (13% of the country’s Internet users are active on this social network). So, how true are the claims, or are these the beginnings of a seismic shift that is about to hit Facebook sooner or later? Time will tell.


Exploring contributions of the top 7 African countries on Facebook highlights the dominance of Egypt


See how the top 7 African countries stack up:

Findings and insights:

  • 🔎Egypt is a front runner. 3 out of every 10 active Facebook users on the continent come from the country of the Pharaohs.
  • 🔎One surprising stat to me to this day relates to Kenya. I say this because I published several blogs on Kenya’s affordable data costs dating back to 2012. One would think that this was going to be the fuel for Facebook registrations by the Kenyans, in line with high Internet numbers? We have been actively tracking Facebook’s performance on the continent since 2012, and Kenya’s ranking has not changed much since then. Given how top-of-mind the country of the Mau Mau Warriors is when there is mention of digital-anything (think M-Pesa), it is still a mystery to me why there is such a low number of active Facebook users.

RELATED POST: Why are broadband prices so high in South Africa compared to Kenya? (published in 2012)

Analysis of Facebook penetration across the top 7 countries in Africa amplifies the poor performance in Kenya


In the graph below, I compare penetrations by Internet and Facebook penetration (users/population), and quarter-on-quarter growth.

Findings and insights:

  • 🔎Comparison of Internet and Facebook penetrations, and quarter-on-quarter growth shows that Africa, represented by the top 7 countries, compares favourably with the Global averages.
  • 🔎And here comes the unavoidable observation again. Kenya has the highest Internet penetration and yet the second lowest Facebook penetration 🤔.
  • 🔎In the country of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 1 in every 2 Nigerians has Internet access, and yet only 1 in 10 is active Facebook user – this is the lowest Facebook penetration in the top 7 countries. It is worth a mention that 1 in every 6 Africans is Nigerian.
  • On the upside, Nigeria’s growth is at the top spot together with South Africa in the top 7.
  • 🔎Facebook growth is flat or declining in North Africa, where the social network has highest penetration.

INVITATION: Click here to participate in the Digital Marketing Skills in Africa Audit 2020


There is a clear correlation between Facebook’s penetration and advertising reach


Advertising reach indicates percentage of active users that can be reached with advertising. As the graph below shows, there is a close correlation between Facebook penetration and advertising reach. I cannot explain the reason behind this though.

Findings and insights:

  • 🔎One key finding is that the level of penetration determines the extent of advertising reach. I would like to then conclude that, in the case of Facebook, numbers are key for stretching the advertising $. How does this apply at brand level? While I am tempted to think that the same/similar trend holds – more fans ➤ more advertising reach, I do not have the data to back this up. Yet.

RELATED POST: What we can learn about Africa from the Digital 2019 report (published in 2019)

There is no correlation between Facebook users, female contributions and penetration levels in the top 7 countries in Africa


The graph below compares Facebook users, female contributions and Facebook penetrations.

Findings and insights

  • 🔎There does not seem to be any correlation between the 3 variables in the graph above.
  • 🔎Females in South Africa show the highest contribution of all the 7 top countries.

RELATED POST: Will Africa be the fertile ground for Facebook’s Libracoin?


Do you agree that low Facebook penetration in Kenya is surprising when compared to the country’s high Internet penetration? Leave your comment here below.


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