African business, politics and lifestyle
Africa’s facebook bright spots
There’s a fascinating (and rather beautiful) map of facebook connections around the world, which you can find here.
No surprise that looking at Africa, large areas are blank – there aren’t many facebook users in the Sahara Desert or Congo rainforests.
But the map also appears to show the emergence of dynamic regional centres – not only of population in terms of numbers, but of a technologically active and connected population.
It is interesting to note the connections between centres in different countries as well as within them.
In East Africa, there is plenty of activity around Nairobi and indeed within Kenya, but it is also linked in an apparent arc stretching from Kigali, through Kampala and on to Dar es Salaam – perhaps boding well for the development of the East African Community, already further ahead with regional integration than most of the continent.
In the West, the concentration of activity is around the cities of southern Nigeria and Ghana and they appear to be linked between each other as well.
While there are clearly connections from southern to northern Nigeria – centered on the capital Abuja – the map also shows just how much greater is the connectivity in the southern half of the country. No doubt population distribution is an important factor, but it may also be an indicator of relative prosperity and access to technology. President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to announce his plan to stand for election on facebook could certainly have had a greater impact in parts of the country than others.
Unsurprisingly, there is a mass of links on the map around Johannesburg and between the main cities in Africa’s biggest economy. North African countries – with the exception of Libya – appear to have plenty of internal connectivity, if not so much between them.
Elsewhere in Africa, there are starbursts around some of the bigger capitals. That suggests there are at least a few facebook users in those countries – but perhaps not as interconnected as in other parts of the continent.
As well as highlighting the prospects for – and gaps in – regional integration, I wonder whether the map might also be a handy guide for business and investors in reaffirming where some of the most vibrant hubs of African growth are to be found as the continent pulls in ever more investment.