This post is the third in a regional series examining the impact of social media on policy outcomes. The names are different, but the method is the same, so I will try to save readers time by jumping right in.
Applying the same methodology as previous posts, few countries have both sufficient/correctly timed data and active, verified accounts created after 2014, the last year of data.
The World Bank lists 47 Sub-Saharan African countries. Of these, all but 6 are currently on Twitter. 38 are on Facebook, only about half are on Instagram, and a few more have YouTube channels. There are 36 active, verified, Sub Saharan African accounts created before 2014. Oddly, the top three accounts for interaction rate all had an average of 0 tweets per day. Similarly, the accounts at the top of the other lists had low interaction rates. Another strange trend is the rarity of older accounts (only 4 before 2014) on the interaction rate top 10 list.
Only 7 countries made it through the two-part filter: Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda. All but Mali and Senegal make it onto the more inclusive top ten lists. Ethiopia has an account at second place for tweets. Nigeria’s presidential account is third in followers. Rwanda has accounts scattered across the charts: 9th in interaction rate, 2nd in followers, and 9th and 10th in tweets. South Africa tops the tweet chart at an average of 23 per day and has another account at 4th in followers. Finally, Uganda’s institutional government account makes number 4 in tweets and the personal presidential account at 7th in followers.
Ethiopia, Mali, and Nigeria don’t have data from years after first account creation. Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda do, and all saw impressive falls in poverty between 18.4 and 8.7%, even while inequality rose outside Senegal. Rwanda and South Africa’s rapid declines in poverty actually slowed after starting to tweet, but Uganda saw a 4.4% fall between 2009 and 2012- straddling the creation of accounts in 2010 and 2011- extending the trend of consistent, >4% falls since 1999.
I am hesitant to draw any conclusions from the above analysis other than Africa is very much on social media, but I am willing to look at Uganda more closely in the upcoming case study paper. Keep an eye out for the next region ASAP. Feel free to guess which it will be! As always, I invite any readers with insights, critiques, and advice to let me know.