Understanding the impact of social media and online media consumption – new report sheds new light on how traditional broadcast models are being challenged

9 April 2019

Top Story

It’s taken four years to gather data from a whole host of new sources to produce probably the most detailed description yet of online behaviour in Sub-Saharan Africa. The author Russell Southwood writes about what’s in the report and how some of its findings challenge traditional broadcast models.

Where there is robust national survey data, it shows African online users spending 2-3 hours a day on social media. Whilst you can do social media whilst watching TV, this is a large bite out of the time available for other media.

Although pay-for VoD platforms have been slow to take off, YouTube is the most popular streaming platform in Sub-Saharan Africa. The tracked content preferences of YouTube users show that young Africans online are devoting large amounts of time to viewing content on this platform.

For those who can afford to pay, platforms like Netflix are eating away at the premium subscribers of the leading pay TV platform DStv. Creating a mass market VoD platform has proved a significant challenge but various platforms are slowly beginning to find the “content+data” bundle sweet spot. But payment methods are still something of a hurdle for users.

In this context, the report seeks to tackle three key questions that broadcasters and producers need to know the answers to:

- How many data subscribers are actually using data and at what level?

- How many people are paying what for online products?

- What they’re doing in terms of online behaviour (content and service preferences)?

With over 1,000 data points, many from completely new sources, it allows all those involved in the digital ecosystem – whether mobile operators, ISPs, media and broadcast companies, brands and advertising companies, investors, banks or digital content and service companies – to understand overall patterns of behaviour across the continent and in 11 of the largest digital markets.

The report’s overview covers: the Main Platforms Used and Advertising revenues; Social Media Platforms; Voice and Messaging Services; Media Platforms; Audio–Visual Service; Music Services; Payment and e-commerce Services; and Other Digital Services (including online games, sharing sites; taxi hailing services, classifieds; and e-publishing). There are individual country profiles for the 11 leading digital markets: Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Senegal, Cameroon and Uganda.

Daily internet use in the top 11 digital markets in Sub-Saharan Africa has grown considerably in the last five years but is still 20-30% behind levels found in Europe and the USA. Likewise, using e-commerce (or buying goods online) has also increased significantly but is a great deal further behind in Sub-Saharan Africa than in other more comparable markets like India, where 28% have used e-commerce in the last 12 months. To what extent is digital behaviour in Sub-Saharan becoming both more frequent and more complex? This report brings a wealth of new data to try and answer this question.

There are no accurate statistics for internet users in Africa: the large numbers often quoted are not a helpful guide for anyone trying to work out the number of online users in key markets. The number of internet users is often limited by issues of language and literacy which are clearly detailed in the report.

A key metric for tracking online behaviour in Sub-Saharan Africa is identifying the number of active data users. A great deal of data subscribers use either little or no data. The report section uses operator data to spell out the following: what level of subscribers are actually using defined amounts of data; how many own smartphones; what proportion use smartphones for data activities; the average amount of data that subscribers are using; handset affordability; the use of PCs and tablets; and the number of broadband and Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) subscribers. The report compares the average country price per 500 MB for the 11 focus countries to prices found in Sri Lanka, the UK and France and looking at these prices as a percentage of daily GDP. It concludes by comparing monthly average data use with the amount and cost of data for a range of digital activities.

This report provides price breakdowns for all 11 focus countries covering games, music streaming services and Video-on-Demand (VoD) platforms and compares the daily cost of each service for daily, weekly and monthly use.

Using a small number of available metrics, the report looks at how potential service operators and investors can define more carefully the potential number of online users for a particular service in a given country. It looks at how app installs and local visit data can be used to define particular markets, both for pay-for and free-at-the-point-of-delivery services. The methodology is illustrated using data for three countries: Nigeria (anglophone), Cote d’Ivoire (francophone), and Angola (lusophone).

This section looks at how the metrics used in the sections above and other data can be used to make growth projections for online behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa. It looks at the market at its widest (active mobile data subscribers) and its narrowest (FTTH subscribers) points. At its widest point, it uses app installs and local views to show how these might translate into online use patterns. The report draws out the implications of the patterns of growth that might happen and offers conclusions on how this might affect Africa’s digital markets.

Sub-Saharan Africa is on the threshold of a major change in how many aspects of daily life are conducted. This report provides data on where things are now and how they will develop in the future. For details of how to buy the report, see the advert below

New report now published for Balancing Act News Update readers

Digital Landscapes 2019 Sub-Saharan Africa’s Digital Landscape and its Top 11 Markets

Digital Landscapes 2019 cover

Balancing Act has just published a 148 pp report called Sub-Saharan Africa’s Digital Landscape and its Top 11 Markets – data prices, smartphones, digital content and services and e-commerce. After four year's research, it's my analysis of how big Sub-Saharan Africa's online activity really is; who's actually paying for anything; how they're paying for it; and what they're doing in terms of online behavior (both content and services). It has over a thousand data points in it, many from completely new sources. I think you and your colleagues will find it very interesting and useful. The report is now published and the price is GBP1,650.

If you’re interested in seeing Contents Page and a full listing of all tables and graphics just mail me send me an email requesting it. To take advantage of the pre-publication offer, just send me an email requesting an invoice: info@balancingact-africa.com