Why African digital trends matter in the world

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | South Africa | Nigeria | Egypt | Kenya | Ghana | Morocco | Digital Report 2022 | Africa Digital Trends | Digital Brand Research | Social Media | Search Engines | Online Reviews | Brand Websites | 1 April 2022-banner

This eNsight is part of the Digital South Africa Today 2022 initiative, about which we will share more on our digital platforms as we head towards the 21st April.

In this eNsight, I analyse selected Internet and social media metrics found in the Global Digital Report 2022, which compare digital performances of the world’s 47 leading countries, in order to demonstrate that:

  1. That Africa leads when it comes to Internet consumtion trends;
  2. There are common digital trends that can be applied across the African continent, and
  3. Overall, African digital trends do have a sway in the shaping of overall global trends.  

Join me.

Table of Contents

Inspiration for this eNsight

The first quarter of each year has been a boon for the analysis of digital trends on the African continent for many years now, thanks to the publishing of the authoritative annual global digital report that has been taking place for more than decade to date.

This year was no different. 

Being the self-declared data junkie, I could not wait to get my hands on the African country digital reports,

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | South Africa | Nigeria | Egypt | Kenya | Ghana | Morocco | Digital Report 2022 | Africa Digital Trends | Simon Kemp | 1 April 2022
Figure 1: Edited email correspondence with Simon Kemp - the author of the Global Digital Report

as the email correspondence with Simon Kemp shows in Figure 1. 

And, to my delight, the published digital data are the  richest ever!

Clearly then, I did not need anymore inspiration :)

How to read graphs with the selected African digital trends

1.

I share 8 graphs that contain selected comparative digital data of the world’s 47 leading countries in this eNsight. 

All the digital front runners are included in the 47 countries, from the US, to the UK, China and Japan to the U.A.E.

6 of the countries are African – South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and Ghana. 

Note that 36% of Africa’s 1.4 billion inhabitants are found in the 6 countries above.

Population sizes of 4 of the 6 countries put them in the top 10 on the continent, excluding Morocco (11th) and Ghana (13th).

2.

Also note that the digital metrics across the 8 comparative graphs are divided into 2 main sets – Internet metrics and social media metrics.

3.

In addition, for each set of digital metrics, the two trends that I analyse are on adoption and consumption respectively. 

RELATED ENSIGHT:

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4.

Naturally, the volume of digital data across the 8 comparative graphs can be overwhelming.

However, I advise that you focus only on the discernible patterns for the 6 African countries that are clearly highlighted in each graph, and will be explained in the associated findings.

This way, you will not be lost in or be confused by the deluge of the data.

Let us jump right in.

1. Internet trends

1.1 Adoption

Below is the first of the 8 graphs, which plots Internet adoption (as a % of total population) for the leading 47 countries. 

The white down arrow identifies the global average bar.

South Africa is highlighted with a green down arrow. 

The remaining 5 African countries are identified with amber down arrows. 

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | South Africa | Nigeria | Egypt | Kenya | Ghana | Morocco | Digital Report 2022 | African Digital Trends | Internet Adoption | 1 April 2022
Figure 2 | Source Digital Report 2022

Additional data:

The combined Internet adoption in the 6 African countries in Figure 2 is 59%. 
The continental adoption rate, according to Internet World Stats is 41.3%.

Findings:

Notice how the African cluster is found at the lower end of the Internet adoption graph in Figure 2?

Do you also notice that the global average (white bar) is within the African cluster?

1.2. Consumption

2 consumption metrics are analysed in Figure 3 below – mobile’s share of Web traffic and daily time spent using the Internet on mobile.

Figure 3 | Source: Digital Report 2022 | Click on any of the two graphs to enlarge it

Findings:

Notice how more of the African countries are leading the “mobile’s share of Web traffic” metric, and all the 6 hold their own in the “time spent using the Internet on mobile” graph, in Figure 3?

Do you also notice that the global average (white bar) is also shifting in step with the performance of the African cluster?

Just as a “by the way”, there appears to be a North Africa vs Sub-Saharan Africa dynamic playing out for the “mobile’s share of Web traffic” metric.

RELATED ENSIGHT:

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Key insights:

In the main, the 6 African countries in the leading 47 tend to share similar trends for both Internet adoption and consumption trends.

Equally importantly, Africa leads in selected Internet consumption trends, despite low adoption levels – a clear indication that these two super metrics are not correlated for the continent.

Question:

Do the high Internet consumption levels on the continent mean anything for your brand, or is it business as usual? 

2. Social media trends

2.1. Adoption

Below is the fourth of the 8 graphs, which plots social media adoption (as a % of total population) for the 47 countries. 

The white down arrow identifies the global average bar.

South Africa is highlighted with a green down arrow. 

The remaining 5 African in the graph are identified with blue down arrows. 

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | South Africa | Nigeria | Egypt | Kenya | Ghana | Morocco | Digital Report 2022 | Africa Digital Trends | Social Media Penetration | 1 April 2022
Figure 4 | Source Digital Report 2022

Additional data:

The combined social media adoption for the 6 African countries in Figure 4 is 31%. 
The combined Facebook adoption for the 6 African countries is 32.7%, while the continental adoption rate is 20.8% (source: Internet World Stats).

Findings:

Notice how the African countries are clustered at the lower end on the social media adoption graph in Figure 4?

Do you also notice that the global average (white bar) is within the African cluster?

These two social media adoption findings are the same for Internet adoption as well.

2.2. Consumption

3 social media consumption metrics are analysed in Figure 5 below – daily time spent using social media, use of social media for brand research, and use of social media for work activities.

Figure 5 | Source: Digital Report 2022 | Click on any of the 3 graphs to enlarge it

Findings:

Notice how the bulk of the African cluster has moved to the higher end on all the 3 graphs in Figure 5, when compared to the adoption trend in Figure 4?

Do you also notice that the global average (white bar) has also shifted in the direction of the African countries?

For “social media for work” metric, there appears to be a North Africa vs Sub-Saharan Africa dynamic playing out.

Again, the overall consumption trend for social media and the Internet are similar.

The digital brand research metric – in perspective:

This metric warrants a deeper analysis, to assist brands make sense of the main digital platforms that online consumers on the African continent use to find out about brands.

For this purpose, I look at top 4 sources for digital brand research across the 6 African countries that are part of the Global Digital Report 2022.

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | South Africa | Nigeria | Egypt | Kenya | Ghana | Morocco | Digital Report 2022 | Africa Digital Trends | Digital Brand Research | Social Media | Search Engines | Online Reviews | Brand Websites | 1 April 2022-
Figure 6 | Source Digital Report 2022

Finding:

The importance of social media for digital brand research is hopefully as clear as daylight, as Figure 6 shows.

Key insights:

As was the case with Internet, social media adoption and consumption for the 6 African countries in the top 47 tend to display similar trends – some more (daily time spent) than others (social media for work).

More importantly, Africa leads in the consumption trends of social media, despite low adoption levels.

Brand question:

How strong as the presence of your brand on social media, given that current and prospective consumers search for it predominantly on these platforms? 

Conclusion

I hope I have been able to demonstrate that African digital trends – both adoption and consumption – move the global needle. 

No doubt, Africa dominates the world when it comes to certain digital consumption trends, some of which are indeed productive – such as using social media for work activities.

Most of digital trends that are exhibited by the 6 African countries that are the subject of this eNsight are similar, and can therefore be applied to the rest of the continent with a fair measure of success. 

On a parting shot

Any particular light bulb moments that you experienced from the digital data that I shared in this eNsight?

I would love to know, so follow the steps below and share your thoughts. 

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