Sizing Up Twitter In Kenya

Lets face it. Everyone seems to be on social media in Kenya these days. As in EVERYONE. Indeed, it was hardly 5 years ago that the likes of Facebook really started taking off and it seemed more like a novelty rather than a mainstream paradigm shift of how people connected to each other everyday via the Internet. Twitter, shortly thereafter, also started gaining momentum and the truth be said unless you were one of Kenya’s elite ‘digerati’ it was hard to ‘get it’, so to speak. Since then, Twitter has grown by leaps and bounds in Kenya and there are even elite ‘twitterati’ who boast of hundreds of thousands of followers, and growing.

This week was an interesting one for Twitter in that they announced their 2104 Q2 results which had been eagerly awaited since the jury was out as to whether Twitter was losing steam and the expectation was that they would under-perform. Therefore, it came as something of a surprise that Twitter grew by more than 16 million new users and now has around 271 million monthly active users or ‘MAUs’. It was further suggested (rather ambiguously) that twitter has 2 to 3 times its MAUs since lots of users do not actually login meaning that they could actually have over 600 million users. In addition, Twitter grew its revenues to US$ 312 million, beating analysts estimates in the process. Therefore, all things considered, and even though its much smaller than Facebook, Twitter is on a roll!

As usual, beyond the global hype and fanfare, I always like to look at technology trends and insights from a local or regional perspective within an African context. Twitter may be massive ‘everywhere’ but how exactly is it doing in Kenya? I tend to think that ‘technophiles’ like me always seem to operate in our own little bubbles where the adoption of technologies and digital trends in Kenya are concerned so that we forget social media is not exactly ‘normal’ for the average Kenyan. This is the truth. Its a largely urban trend where mobile broadband is abundant and we ‘tweet’ at every opportunity.

Over the years, its been hard to get a sense of how big Twitter actually is in markets like Kenya since they normally do not release user metrics on a localised basis meaning we often have to ‘guesstimate’. At this juncture, Facebook has around 4 million users, YouTube in the region of 3.5 million users(?) and Linkedin close to 1 million users. My previous best guess on Twitter’s user base In Kenya would have been around 1.5 million in Kenya? Well, I recently secured some credible data in this respect and these are the real numbers circa June/July 2014:

  • Kenya has a confirmed 700,000+ monthly active users (MAUs) on Twitter. Given that announcement this week at Twitter has 2 to 3 times its MAUs who do not login, this means that Kenya has in the region of 1.4 million to 2.1 million users in total.
  • 80% of Twitter users in Kenya access the service on a daily basis. In terms of Daily Active Users (DAUs) therefore the number is approximately 570,000+.
  • Twitter growth has been doubling in Kenya year on year (YoY). This means that around this time next year there will be around 1.4 million Twitter MAUs in Kenya or anywhere between 2.8 million to 4.2 million users in total factoring in those who do not login.
  • Whilst global mobile-based Twitter usage is approximately 75% or 203 million MAUs according to the Q2 2014 results. In Kenya its 93% which would translate to 651,000+ MAUs on mobile and only 7% or 49,000+ MAUs on desktop. 
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  1. August 1, 2014 at 6:52 am — Reply

    Nice recap of it’s growth.

  2. August 1, 2014 at 9:45 am — Reply

    Great insight, thanks. I’ve always wondered about twitter locally. I’m just wondering about this statemet:
    “Given that announcement this week at Twitter has 2 to 3 times its MAUs who do not login, this means that Kenya has in the region of 1.4 million to 2.1 million users in total.”
    Is this from your source or from Twitter global?

    • August 1, 2014 at 10:28 am — Reply

      @PrincelySid This was from Twitter Global as reported in the media as part of their Q2 2014 briefing by the CEO. I extrapolated that data to Kenya.

  3. Benjamin Muindi
    August 2, 2014 at 7:55 pm — Reply

    Hello, I’m writing my dissertation on Twitter in Kenya. Do you mind sharing the source of your data on Kenyan users of the media service? That would be a great insight into the study. Thank you.

    • August 3, 2014 at 7:02 am — Reply

      @ben unfortunately the source was very explicit about not being quoted for various professional reasons. I can however assure you that the information is very credible.

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