Cape Town – The top tweeting cities in Africa have been revealed in a new study that seeks to analyse the behaviour of Twitter users.
According to a study by strategic communications agency Portland, SA and Egypt are the most active on Twitter, with peaks for the Egyptian uprisings and the death of global icon Nelson Mandela.
Globally, Twitter tracker Topsy.com showed that over six million tweets on Mandela were recorded on 5 December.
On the continent though, Johannesburg was the most active city on Twitter with 344 215 geo-located tweets, followed by Ekurhuleni (264 172) and Cairo (227 509) in the last three months of 2013.
The top five is made up of Durban (163 019) and Alexandria (159 534).
Kenya’s Nairobi is the most active city in East Africa with 123 078 geo-located tweets and on the west the title goes to Accra with 78 575.
“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,” said Allan Kamau, Head of Portland Nairobi.
In terms of language, English is most commonly used on Twitter in Africa, followed by French and Arabic. These languages make up 75.5% of the representation, with rest comprising Zulu, Swahili, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Portuguese.
The research revealed that the most active days for tweeting are Tuesdays and Fridays with peak volumes at around 21:00.
Research has generally indicated that Twitter’s abbreviated style of messaging has become increasingly popular as a way to disseminate news.
“Twitter is an interesting animal. Initially it has a steep learning curve, but once people get into it, Twitter can be addictive,” Samantha Fleming, social media consultant at Afrosocialmedia told News24.
In Egypt during the uprisings against former dictator Hosni Mubarak, there was widespread use of social networking platforms to mobilise the population.
Fleming said that social media activism was likely to be increasingly used as a way for people to exercise political opinions and advocate for change.
“Social media is just another tool for citizens to make their voices heard. The technology in and of itself is not the answer. However it does allow groups to form alliances across geographic and other boundaries and thereby strengthen their voice.”
However, the propensity of some governments to place restrictions on social media platforms was worrying and Fleming warned that such behaviour could lead to social upheaval.
“Whether or not social media leads to policy change has more to do with government’s openness to change, and political pressure, in the first place.”