Joburg most active Twitter city in Africa

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg is the most active city on Twitter in Africa, according to a new study released on Wednesday, which analyses activity on the microblogging site on the continent.

The How Africa Tweets study was conducted by international strategic communications agency Portland and tracked tweets during the final three months of 2013.

The study shows that Johannesburg is the most active city on Twitter in Africa, with 344,215 geo-located tweets, followed by Ekurhuleni (264,172) and Cairo (227,509). Durban (163,019) and Alexandria (159,534) make up the remainder of the top five most active cities.

Nairobi is the most active city in East Africa and the sixth most active on the continent, with 123,078 geo-located tweets. Accra is the most active city in West Africa and the eighth most active on the continent, with 78,575 geo-located tweets.

The study comes as South Africa gears up for the May 7 elections and with Twitter seemingly becoming a major campaign platform for most political parties such as the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance.

However, the study found that politically related hashtags were less common than those referring to other issues, with only four particularly active political hashtags tracked during the period. These included #KenyaAt50 — a celebration of Kenya’s independence — and the competing #SickAt50.

According to the study, football was discussed more than any other topic, including the death of former president Nelson Mandela. The most mentioned football team was Johannesburg’s Orlando Pirates (#BlackisBack, #PrayForOrlandPirates, #OperationFillOrlandoStadium).

According to the study, English, French and Arabic are the most common languages used on Twitter in Africa, accounting for 75.5% of the total tweets analysed. Zulu, Swahili, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Portuguese are the next most commonly tweeted languages in Africa.

Tuesdays and Fridays are the most active tweeting days. Twitter activity rises steadily through the afternoon and evening, with peak volumes at about 9pm.

Portland worked with Tweetminster to collect the data for How Africa Tweets.

Tweetminster is a media platform that analyses and organises, in real time, what networks of experts and influencers around any topic, industry or market are paying attention to.

The How Africa Tweets study also used geo-located data to accurately identify the country of origin of tweets. A geo-located tweet refers to a tweet sent by a user who has enabled location-based services. Relying on geo-location allows for certainty regarding the location of tweets and can act as an indicator for wider Twitter activity.

The study also found that Twitter activity in Africa during the last quarter of 2013 peaked on the day of Mandela’s death.

According to the study, brand activity in Africa is becoming increasingly prevalent. Portland tracked major hashtag activity from top brands such as Samsung (#SamsungLove), Adidas (#Adidas) and Magnum ice cream (#MagnumAuction).

Allan Kamau, head of Portland Nairobi, said on Wednesday that the African Twittersphere is changing rapidly and transforming the way that Africa communicates with itself and the rest of the world.

"Our latest research reveals a significantly more sophisticated landscape than we saw just two years ago. This is opening up new opportunities and challenges for companies, campaigning organisations and governments across Africa," Mr Kamau said.

Mark Flanagan, head of digital for Portland, said: "As well as adding diversity of perspective on political and social issues, Africa’s Twitter users are also contributing linguistic diversity. Twitter is now established on the continent as a source of information and a platform for conversation."

Comments (2)

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