More people use Facebook in Nigeria than anywhere else in Africa

Image: Reuters/Dado Ruvic
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As internet use in Nigeria has shot up in the last five years, so has the use and popularity of social media platforms. New data shows Facebook remains a popular choice for Nigerians as 16 million people in Africa’s most populous country visit the social media platform every month.

Nigeria is still Facebook’s biggest market on the continent. Last year Facebook said South Africa, had 12 million monthly users while Kenya had 4.5 million.

Nigeria already has one of the continent’s highest smartphone penetration rates and that number will get even higher as smartphone subscriptions are expected to reach 95 million by 2019. Facebook said it has 7.2 million daily users from Nigeria with 97% of them accessing the platform via mobile.

Nigeria’s rapid mobile and internet growth is opening up opportunities for significant revenues for Facebook and as a result the social network is looking to forge stronger ties with businesses in Africa’s largest economy. A Facebook team visited Nigeria to ‘deepen partnerships with Nigerian businesses’ and help them create more compelling mobile-based marketing campaigns.

“Nigerians are sophisticated mobile users and this sophistication is increasing fast—people are ahead of businesses,” Nunu Ntshingila, head of Africa for Facebook, said.

One of the challenges for Facebook—as well as an opportunity, would be to help build a strong mobile advertising market. Facebook’s fourth quarter earnings for 2015 show Africa and South America generate revenue of just $1.22 per user. Facebook pulls in more than 11 times that amount per user in North America.

As a whole, Africa constitutes only 8% of Facebook’s global monthly users mainly due to the continent’s comparatively low Internet penetration rates but Facebook will be hoping to increase its user numbers on the continent through its ambitious but controversial initiative, a mobile internet service which lets users access some sites for free.