The fine folks over at oAfrica have complied the Facebook growth rates for the last 18 months and they are stunning.
But before you get too excited, they also put these numbers into perspective by comparing the total number of Facebook users to the total populations of African countries. When you look at these numbers, FB’s growth is great, but still quite lacking in mass adoption. Here are some highlights worthy of a raised eyebrow:
18 month user growth rate in selected countries
- Nigeria 154% increase to 4,369,740 FB users
- Ghana 85% increase to 1,146,560 FB users
- Kenya 50% increase to 1,298,560 users
Facebook adoption across Africa
- 37+ million Facebook users as of December 2011
- 165% median Facebook user growth since July 2010 (114% mean)
Penetration rates across Africa
- 2.4% median Facebook penetration rate (3.6% mean)
- 36 nations have fewer than 1-in-20 people on Facebook
- 12 nations have fewer than 1-in-100 people on Facebook
Another way to look at this is that with Nigeria’s growth at 150,000 new Facebook users ever month, it would take 4 years to reach everyone in Nigeria, if the 154% growth rate remains the same. But it will probably slow dramatically as oAfrica projects:
Facebook adoption in Africa, although rapidly increasing within most nations at the moment, is starting to slow in more developmentally-advanced countries. Even if Facebook user growth rates settle at 25% annually, it could be ten years until Kenya boasts 30% of the population on Facebook. In 17 months, Kenya’s Facebook user rate has gone from 2% to 3%. South Africa’s is near 10% after increasing from 7%. This growth rate of 50% over 17 months for Kenya and South Africa – which we deem “mature” – suggests the challenges large nations face providing affordable Internet and connecting rural areas. Plus, even when Internet access is available, not everyone wants to use Facebook.
What to make of this all? Facebook is a growing presence in Africa and it is an online juggernaut. But African countries have a long way to go before all their people can get online and enjoy the FB experience.