Twitter is fast becoming a source of information in Africa, partly due to lack of press freedom.
Kigali – Rwandan are Tweeting so much that latest research released on Thursday shows they are among the top countries on the African continent in using the micro blogging site to connect with the world.
In the East African Community (EAC) region, Kenya has the biggest volume of Tweets totalling some 2,476,800 tweets in the last three months of 2011, the period of the study by Kenya-based Portland Communications and Tweetminster.
Rwandan comes in second at 92,880 Tweets in the same period. Twitter is not common in Rwanda, only used by a very small number of elite – including President Kagame and some very high ranking officials. President Kagame alone has some 49,000 followers on his page.
Many Rwandans – especially the youths love Facebook, a social networking site. It became so common recently that some companies blocked its access on companies servers because employees were found to be spending more time on Facebook than working.
The research analyzed more than 11.5 million geographically pinpointed tweets originating on the continent during the last three months of 2011. That was complemented by a survey of 500 of Africa’s most active tweeters.
South Africans, with the continent’s biggest economy, were the most prolific with over twice as many tweets at 5,030,226 than the next most active country of Kenya with 2,476,800 tweets. Surprisingly, Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, had only 1,646,212 tweets from its more than 170 million people. It was followed by Egypt with 1,214,062 and Morocco with 745,620 tweets.
African tweeters are young, averaging 20 to 29 years, compared to 39 worldwide, the report said. And some 57 percent of analyzed tweets were sent from mobile phones, mainly Blackberries and iPhones.
Rwanda appears at number seven among the top 20 African nations. Surprisingly, Ugandans, Tanzanians and Burundians are nowhere – even DR Congo coming in at 18.
The researchers noted how few African business and political leaders were joining Africa’s burgeoning Twittersphere.
President Kagame and Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga are some of the top Twitter users. Mr. Kagame got into an infamous Twitterspat last year with journalist Ian Birrell of The Guardian of London, with the two trading tweets about human rights and repression in Rwanda. The cyber-conversation first was joined by foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, and then went global.