How Digital is Driving Media Growth in Africa

African Affluent at the forefront of adopting new media technologies

The 5th Affluent Survey Africa, released by Ipsos on September 13th, revealed:

  • Despite internet penetration in the continent lagging behind other regions of the world, Africa’s Affluent population have embraced digital technology more rapidly than their European counterparts: many more of them are watching TV on their tablets, computers and smartphones and more of them read their newspapers digitally.
  • International TV channels now enjoy a higher reach amongst the Affluent population than national channels
  • Social media is now considered the first port of call for news amongst a substantial proportion of the Affluent population

The bi-annual study measures the media use and consumption behaviour of the top 15% of income earners in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.

Growth of international media brands. In the past two years, there has been a major roll-out of digital television broadcasting services across the continent, increasing the availability and reach of many international media channels. On a monthly basis, 96% of the African Affluent population watch an international television network. In fact, on a daily level, the combined reach of international television channels – at 81% - is now higher than that of national channels, watched by 71% of this select group of people.

While all types of international media are popular amongst Africa’s top 15%, the survey results show they are heavily business-news oriented. 69% of the African Affluent look at business-news media brands on a monthly basis, compared to just 44% of the Affluent in Europe.

Digital minded. Although internet penetration in Africa still lags much of the rest of the world, this has not stopped the Affluent population there from embracing the digital revolution. Two-thirds of Affluent Africans claim to watch television on devices other than their TV set; far higher than the 41% claiming to do the same in Europe.

Four out of five Affluent Africans claim to read digital versions of newspapers some of the time, compared to a little over 70% in Europe and the Middle East. One-fifth claim to mainly read their newspapers digitally. 

Proportion of time spent reading/watching on digital devicesSocial media. This year’s survey contains more detailed information on Africans’ use of social media, which is the top feature used on a mobile phone. Four out of five Affluent Africans consider social media influential. Nine out of ten African Affluents use social media several times a day. 12% consider social media to be their first port of call for news and current affairs. This number is highest in Kenya, where social media are the primary source for news for 25% of the Affluent.

Social network sites used in the last 30 daysMobile-first. Africa stands out as a mobile-first continent. With the exception of South Africa and Kenya, the African Affluent spend more time visiting websites and apps on their mobile phone than using their desktops or laptops. Practically all (96%) African Affluent now own a smartphone, with the highest penetration in Kenya and the lowest in Morocco.

The prominence of mobile technology not only affects how Africa’s top 15% accesses the news: it influences their everyday life more broadly. For example, mobile is the most used digital platform to access personal bank accounts (57%). 41% of the African Affluent use his or her mobile phone for shopping, only slightly behind the desktop used by 43% for online purchases.

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