When Twitter is deaf to Africa

It is the tweet of a friend that got my attention.  On 02nd, May, this Ivorian user of Twitter was complaining and askinh :

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8 days went by, 15 days, 20 days later, no answer from Twitter.

But what is it all about ? The social media network with the hummingbird has set up blogs for each corner of the world.  An annal of Twitter blogs.

‘’ We publish updates and analysis on our products, our  initiatives and our teams around the world, ‘’we read on the opening page.  Except in their world (be it their initiatives, analysis and products)…there is no trace of Africa.  At least, not at the moment, hence the tweet of 02nd, May.

No Africa blog… what must be done for it to change ?

A hashtag was even set up to follow this ‘’matter »: #AfricaMatters. But nothing 20 days later. No reply. Twitter is being deaf. A deafening silence for a social media network that prides itself on its interactivity.

Meanwhile, in ‘’ Pacific Asia ‘’, Japan has four blogs, India, Korea, Indonesia and Australia have a blog each.  In Europe, England has two blogs, France as well, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy have a blog each. Finally in the Americas, Canada has a blog and Brazil has one as well.

[French Verse soon/ Version française ]

What is the need for an Africa Blog on Twitter ?

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There are 54 countries that make up Africa, certainly not a negligible number.  According to the 2015 Portland Report, 1.6 billion tweets were published from Africa in 2015.  This is 34 times more than the first issue of the study published in 2012.. An explosion of the African Twittosphere lead first of all by Egypt.  In 2015, Egyptians wrote 28% of tweets from Africa. Right behind Egypt, we have Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.  (Read also African countries who tweet the most).  A space going through such a  digital shift surely deserves an interest. Or not ?

It is true that the number of users is not on the scale of countries from American countries or from some European countries and that can be explained by many factors : weak network coverage, high cost of internet, lack of training and information to the population regarding using internet in general and twitter especially…  Yet, looking at the way it is used and the innovations which come out of it, the continent is way ahead.  To mention some examples : the matter of the ‘’Arab Spring » (in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya), as a tool used by citizens to demand accountability from their leaders (Senegal and Burkina Faso), its usage for humanitarian purposes in Côte d’Ivoire for instance. Examples abound !

Furthermore, with cheaper smartphones flooding the African market, ‘’more and more Africans access social media networks via their phones,’’the Portland study shows.  ‘’The fastest growth of social media networks is in Africa (…). Oftentimes, when Africans go online, it is on social media networks. Facebook is the most popular network by far and it has grown most spectacularly. Twitter then follows.  Seen at the beginning as the network for the elite, its usage in Africa is becoming more ‘’democratic’’.

[Good to know : in 2015, Twitter asked for a study to be done on the usage of its platform in South Africa.  That study was done by the Dutch group Nielsen, a group with expertise in audience measurement in television, radio, written press, internet and mobile phone.  Here are the results].

And so, questions ! Why does Twitter not have a blog for the African market ? A market, which is in full growth. But most importantly, why do Twitter’s customer service, its CEO and the other managers (among whom those in charge of Africa) stay quiet especially as since 02nd, May, African users of their network have not stopped calling them out ?  Why would the blue bird fly with its regional blogs elsewhere and not on the black continent ?  Simple questions to which hundreds of thousands of Twitter users are expecting an answer.

Israël @Yoroba GUEBO

Journalist – Blogger, Co-founder of L’Essentiel.ci

Translation : Edwige Dro






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