Ethiopian facebook users’ posts and shared links of the past two weeks tell a story most eloquently.
Facebook is the big internet fashion in urban Ethiopia specifically in Addis Ababa and in some big towns. Seemingly from nowhere, in the middle of the Egyptian social network driven uprisings the number of Ethiopians who post their feelings and their expectations regarding the revolutions in Egypt exploded. This past week facebook users’ attention around blogs and media that are seriously reporting the uprising in Egypt is increasing. This is being reflected on their shared links and tagged photos. It is all so sudden; it naturally carries all the features of a new fad: if I may coin a word for it –serious facebooking.
But underpinning it was an apparent tipping point for social media and social networking in Ethiopia with most of the facebook users’ posts and shared links were generally apolitical and trivial. Most of the posts on the walls of many facebook users were information in the form of selected photographs and textual descriptions of likes and dislikes regarding movies, European football clubs like Arsenal or Manchester United, clothes, cosmetics, friends, food, and more.
The key moments for serious facebooking included the launches of Addis Neger newspaper facebook page; the first mainstream newspaper (though closed in Addis) to embrace blogs and the social networking environment; individual journalists with more one thousand facebook friends such as Ermias Amare and Abiy Teklemariam and some others who are residing abroad gives comprehensive tracking service of information in Ethiopia.
From my preliminary assessments of some fifty walls of my online friends’ facebook pages I have observed that, after a slow and intermittent build-up, an explosion of posts and sharing links regarding politics occurred in past two weeks of January 2011, representing a tipping point for the phenomenon. But what if that turned out to be hype and momentary excitement because of Tunisian and Egyptian revolution? Would the new trend be sustainable?
The new data, collected and collated by the Facebakers web site for facebook usage in Ethiopia from December 31 2010 to January 31 2011, provides a clear indication. The facebakers web site does not provide information regarding the contents of the facebook users’ pages but from the preliminary survey of my facebook friends’ pages I have observed that there is a strong tendency of shift in posts and link sharing of facebook pages that participated in this mini research of mine.
The November-December tipping point for facebook in Ethiopia, chronicled in this blog, also appeared to be the period during which facebook users in urban Ethiopia began to increase in number.
Unlike my previous posts I hope, no animals will be harmed in the compilation of this facebook data for Ethiopia.
The most significant items of data are represented by the following table:
- Total Facebook Users: 253 020. It was 210,000 previously
- Penetration of population: 0.29 %. It was 0.24 % previously
- Position in the global country ranking: 100. It was 105 previously
- Penetration of online population in Ethiopia: 56.81 It was 47.13%
- Male facebook users : 69% Did not change
- Female facebook users : 31% Did not change
The numbers show that the total number of facebook users grew fairly highly if not exponentially in just two months from December to January 2011 — 9.6 % — quite a leap forward for facebook for a country like Ethiopia.
Aside from the number of facebook users increasing in January the Ethiopians facebook posts shared links shifted their focus from mere entertainment issues to more serious political issues. I will ask again would the new trend be sustainable?.