I’m giving a talk this week to a group focused on telecoms in Africa, so I’ve been catching up on my African telco statistics. In the process, I stumbled on Online Africa, a really extraordinary collection of data sets about connectivity, social media and the internet in Africa.
The data’s incredibly well sourced, and in some cases, the site’s administrator has done some interesting pre-analysis. Take, for instance, this graph:
Data comes from Afrigator, a popular aggregator of African blogs, and helps give a sense for why some countries (Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria) are better represented on sites like Global Voices than others. In particular, it’s helping me understand why we’ve had such a hard time reporting on current events in Gabon, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. (In fairness, Afrigator, is probably not the best place to find Francophone blogs, as an English language site. But in general, we know of many more blogs in Anglophone nations than Francophone ones…)
I’m also utterly fascinated by this graph:
It’s a visualization of round-trip ping times between a test server and servers around the world. Basically, it’s a way of testing actual speed, rather than promised speed, of internet connectivity in different corners of the world… and it’s a reminder that there are many countries (at least when this data was generated in 2009) that are connected primarily by satellite, where packets take more than half a second to make the round trip.
But the data set I’m most enjoying is this one: the number of Facebook Friends various African leaders can claim. Some leaders have official pages, some private, personal pages. A large number simply have fan pages, put together by a community of supporters. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan leads the pack – by a lot – with 341,759 friends in December 2010. He’s embraced Facebook rather aggressively, going as far as to announce his candidacy for the presidency on the site, probably to preempt the announcement of a rival.
A close look at African leaders with lots of Facebook friends might offer a caution for Jonathan. Here are the top leaders, in terms of followers, as of December 2010″
341,759 Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
232,424 Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia
61,510 Mwai Kibaki, Kenya
59,744 King Mohamed VI, Morocco
57,072 Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe (Prime Minister to Robert Mugabe)
21,306 Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania
15,723 Hosni Mubarak, Egypt
15,377 Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast
14,714 Jacob Zuma, South Africa
12,658 Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria
In that top ten, we’ve got two leaders who’ve been forced out of power (Ben Ali, Mubarak), one struggling to retain power after losing an election (Gbagbo), one facing protests like the ones that toppled his neighbor (Bouteflika) and one in danger of arrest from opponents within his coalition government (Tsvangirai.) In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between Facebook friends and staying power of a regime.
Very grateful that Online Africa is collecting this data, and hope to meet the person(s) behind the project some time soon.