Monday, January 16, 2012

Morocco's Love Affair with Facebook Continues

The growth of social media such as Facebook and Twitter shows no sign of slowing down. The latest statistics show that Facebook, for example, has 799 million subscribers. World Internet Stats has just released in its report for 2011 which has some interesting figures for the African continent.

Number one for Facebook user numbers is Egypt with  a staggering 9.4 million users. Second is South Africa with 4.8 million. In third place is Nigeria which is also one of the fastest growing countries.  Four years ago Nigeria had only 400,000 Facebook users. It now has 4.3 million.

Morocco comes fourth with 4.1 million Facebook users; Algeria with 2.8 million users maintaining fifth position while Tunisia recorded 2.7 million Facebook users at the end of December, 2011 making it the sixth in the continent. Ghana also beat other African countries with a 1.1 million Facebook subscriber mark recorded in the country as at end of 2011.

This latest report says social media continue to grow. The use of social media during the protests of the Arab Spring played an important part in galvanising protesters and getting breaking news to a global audience.

Twitter played a major role in the Arab Spring (photo The Guardian)

One of the newer contenders, Google + is making inroads, but has so far not turned out to be the "Facebook killer" many hoped it would be.

In a comparison of Internet usage in Africa, Morocco is in third place with 13.2 million users. Nigeria heads the list with 44.0 million followed by Egypt with 20.1 million.  Lagging well behind Morocco is South Africa with 6.8 million Internet users.

The amount of time individual users are spending on social networking sites is also increasing. According to recent data consumers spend more than six hours a month on social networking sites. Globally, social networks and blogs are the most popular on line category when ranked by average time spent, followed by on line games and instant messaging. There are no recent figures for Internet usage time in Morocco, but, just for interest, the country that spends the most time on Facebook and Twitter, is Australia with just over 7 hours per month.

Internet essential for Moroccan economic growth

Desmond Shepherd, reporting for IT News Africa, says that the Moroccan government is very aware of the importance of on line business and is prioritising initiatives to increase Internet use in the country with a view to at least doubling the current usage.

Late last year a government spokesperson said "Morocco sees Internet penetration as an important step towards moving the country forward into the global economy. It largely depends on where we can get investors to put their money. The Internet is key to attracting foreign companies and as we continue to build our infrastructure, Morocco will be able to enter the global economy on a more equal footing." 

The Internet has been a major draw card for other North African nations, especially Egypt, where the increase in DSL infrastructure has made it more attractive to foreign corporations. Ahmed Abdallah, an employee at Microsoft’s call centre in Cairo, said that Morocco has the unique ability of attracting European companies if Internet usage increases.


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