As Facebook announced that it hit the 1 billion users mark
last week, becoming the world’s third largest “country,” penetration remains
relatively low in East Africa and much of the rest of Africa.
However, this could be the next frontier for the social
networking site to grow its business.
The rate of new users joining Facebook has been slowing down
globally over the past few years, a new report by research analysts Jeffries
Group shows.
The slowdown has been most pronounced in North America and
Europe — in Norway, for example, nearly two-thirds of the entire population
already have a Facebook account.

In Libya and Iraq, the Facebook penetration per Internet
user rate is more than 100 per cent, which means that a large number of web
users in these countries have multiple accounts, perhaps to evade government
But in East Africa, less than one in five Internet users is
on the social networking site — the highest proportion being in Burundi where
21 per cent of Internet users are on Facebook, a possible indication that most
Internet users in the country got access to the net fairly recently when the
social networking site was already popular, making joining Facebook the first
order of business.
Rwanda is second, at 19 per cent of web users on Facebook,
followed by Kenya at 15 per cent, Tanzania at 12 per cent and Uganda at 11 per
The report by Jeffries indicates that the opportunity for
marketers to reap from the social networking site is huge, with about one out
of seven people on the planet now on Facebook.
“As the user base continues to grow, engagement levels are
on the rise with the average user now spending approximately 33 minutes on the
site per day,” the analysts say.
Marketers should take advantage of the user experience on
the network, such as using apps and creating story feeds, which brings in more
money than the traditional banner adverts on the side of the web page, the
report states.
“Facebook is hyper focused on the user experience, and as
such, the company goes to great lengths to ensure products, including
advertising integrations, are beneficial and effective for the users before
rolling them out in a fairly cautious, yet deliberate fashion,” the report
But the greatest challenge for Facebook is adapting its
revenue model to mobile phones. Majority of Internet users in East Africa use
mobile phones as a portal for the web.


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