Mobile Internet is driving the presence of global social media giants in Africa.
The growth of Facebook in Africa has been led by mobile users since 2015, while Twitter launched a new mobile service that seeks to reduce the high cost of data on the continent and other emerging markets.
Data from Facebook shows that 94 per cent of its 170 million monthly active users are connected to the social network platform via mobile.
In Kenya, the majority 6.8 million monthly active users accessed Facebook through their mobile devices in the last quarter of 2016.
“Marketers have a unique opportunity for growth in connecting with the billions of people from emerging markets who have recently come online or will soon be coming online for the first time,” said Nunu Ntshingila, Facebook’s regional director for Africa.
New social media users are connecting to the web through their mobile devices.
Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya are among key markets for Facebook as it seeks to attract enable them to widen their customer base across Africa.
According Ms Ntshinglia, more than 65 million businesses around the world actively use Facebook pages.
“They are free, easy to use, and they enable a business to have a digital and mobile strategy,” she said.
Meanwhile, Twitter has unveiled a new feature called Twitter lite, which Patrick Traughber, Twitter’s product manager, said is a mobile web experience that minimises data usage, loads quickly on slower connections, is resilient on unreliable mobile networks, and takes up less than 1MB on your device.
“It can reduce your data usage by up to 70 per cent, making it more affordable for you to use Twitter in areas where mobile data is expensive,” said Mr Traughber in post on the company’s blog last week.
In its Africa Mobile Economy report for 2016, GSMA, a global telecom research company, said the number of mobile Internet subscribers grew three-fold to reach 300 million users over the past five years and is projected to reach 550 million users by 2020.
“Africa is a mobile-first continent where seven out of 10 users access our platform,” said Carolyn Everson, VP Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook
Twitter plans to use the new data “saver” tool to increase its mobile presence in emerging markets.
“Twitter Lite is a great way for people in emerging markets across Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa to use Twitter for the first time on their mobile devices,” read part of announcement .
Despite mobile devices increasing Internet uptake in Africa, the high cost of data is locking out many users.
According to the State of Mobile web report 2016, by Opera — a mobile browser company — there will be a 13-fold increase in mobile data traffic in Africa by 2021, but data remains prohibitively expensive for mobile users in Africa.
The report shows that 53 per cent of users in Africa can only afford 20MB per month. It also said Ghanaians, Kenyans, Seychellois and Mauritians are the highest data users with an average usage of over 160MB per month.