From INTELLIGENT LIFE Magazine, Spring 2011
There were about 17m Facebook users in Africa at the start of this year, and there are expected to be 28m by the end of it. That means Africa is by far the least Facebooked continent, but the growth patterns indicate that the numbers will surge ahead as mobiles and data become more affordable. Facebook is already making its way in poorer countries. The number of Facebook users in Tanzania quadrupled in 2010, to 200,000. It is expected to quadruple again this year, giving Tanzania more Facebook users than graduates.
There are signs that a new generation is outmanouevring the old. January Makamba, a youthful Tanzanian politician touted as a presidential hopeful, used Facebook to rally supporters and money when he won a parliamentary seat for the Bumbuli constituency in the hills between Mount Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean last year. Makamba brought an aide on the campaign trail whose role was to take pictures and write stories for Makamba’s Facebook page. The target audience was not impoverished Bumbuli, but Makamba’s peers back in the city: a sophisticated web presence was meant to attract ideas and funds and set Makamba apart from the bruisers, apparatchiks and army officers who also have designs on the presidency