Thoughts, insights and analysis of the May 2012 African Top Twits list

Posted on May 5, 2012

This post cover some thoughts, insights and analysis of the Top Twits list (May 2012 Africa’s Top Twits) I posted yesterday. Each of the headings provides an anchor for some tidbits and discussion around that bit. Browse through as you will. I would highly recommend you open either the PDF or Excel document when going through so you can let the information talk to you and come up with your own interpretations and insights.

Overall uptake of twitter

It is interesting to see the continued phenomenal growth of Twitter. While the top African twitter user (@pastorchrislive) hasn’t grown much there is massive growth in the top 10 below him. Previously second place had 243 861 followers, now that has grown to 615 332 and where previously (August 2011) 117 357 followers would have got you into 10th place, now just 8 months later that won’t even crack the top 50.

In the top 50 you would need to be more than doubling your following in the period just to hold onto your spot. And its not just those accounts that have small followings that are growing at these high rates (off a small base) but many in the top 10 have growth rates of 250% to 350%.


Bands 5/12/2012 8/31/2011 Growth Growth %
1   1,062,297   1,038,830     23,467 2%
2      615,332      243,861   371,471 152%
10      363,226      117,357   245,869 210%
50      120,941        59,003     61,938 105%
100        61,521        36,422     25,099 69%

Age of accounts

The age of the accounts in the top 50 is varied with no particular patterns. Some people and organisations got in early, others have managed to catch up quickly with huge growth rates in the last year.

@TahrirTV the account (in 17th place) was created on 17/3/2011. In the 14 months since creation has attracted almost 270 000 followers. This is the “youngest” account in the top 50.

@Sapresident ‘s account (in 51st place) was created on 9/5/2011. In the 12 months since creation has attracted almost 118 000 followers. This is the “youngest” account in the top 150.

The oldest accounts in the top 100 were created in 2007, with @nicobaird being there first on 11/3/2007. Others in this timeframe include @bbcarabic, @monasosh and @aljazeeranet.

The oldest account making the top lists is @andybudd in 233rd position with 25715 followers. This is the only account in the top 1000 on the list which is earlier than 2007.

Sports Stars

The top ranked SA sport star is AB de Villiers (@abdevilliers17) with 204 467 followers (up 107% from 113 923), AB has overtaken Graeme Smith (@graemesmith49) whose following has grown just 41% from 133 363 to 188 681.

Steven Pienaar is the top ranked SA soccer star (Everton and the SA National Team) with 188 666 followers, just behind Graeme. If he continues with his 147% growth rate he will soon move above Graeme and catch AB.

Dale Steyn (@dalesteyn62) is the third cricketer in the top 50 (49th) with 122 259 followers up from 60521.

The top rugby players are Bryan Habana (@bryanhabana) in 63rd place with 90925 followers (up 70% from 53608) followed by the ex captain John Smit (@johnsmit123) in 71st with 80353 followers (from 53322, a meagre 51% growth).

What is noticeable is the absence of African (Non SA) sports superstars from the list. This is something I need to rectify as there are a number of them achieving amazing things in the world and more than likely it is their absence from the sample which is skewing this area towards South Africa.


Dr Mohamed ElBaradei (@elbaradei), the previous Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and influential in the 2011 Egyptian uprising which ousted the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, continues  with his current growth rate(159% growth – 377 795 followers in 8 months), then within a year he would have taken the  top spot.

The “fake” Julius (@julius_s_malema) tops the politicians (30) with 171 103 followers, up 110% from 81 382.

The DA’s leader @helenzille continues to attract followers with her highly interactive and engaging use of twitter. She has grown 138% from 59 003 to 140 627. Helen has sent out 9717 over the 8 month period, roughly 39 posts a day. This far outstrips fake Julius (7.6), Nelson Mandela (2.96) and SA President (a measly 0.04).

Nelson Mandela (@nelsonmandela) has grown from 40437 to 120941 (199%) going above the current SA president whose 122% growth takes him from 53078 to 117575.


Gareth Cliff (@garethcliff) is in 16th place with 275162 followers, up a massive 107004 (64%).
DJ Fresh (@djfreshsa) is the second highest SA DJ with 204988 followers, a growth of 91065 (80%) almost keep up with
Bonang Matheba (@bonang_m), the YFM presenter just trails Gareth and Fresh with 201413 followers (up from 91950) but is growing at a faster rate of 119%. She should take Fresh soon but has a way to go to catch Gareth.
Dineo Ranaka (@dineoranaka) has grown from 67314 to 127507 (89%).
Euphonik (@euponik) has grown by 49827 to reach 105776 (89% growth).


@yosrifouda, a presenter for ONtv makes it into the Top 10, in 8th place with 407989 followers, up 288% (302702) in the last 8 months.

ONtv Egypt (@ontveg) is in 10th, with 363226 followers, up 275 683 (315%).

Al Ahram (@eahram) , the Egyptian publishing & Media house and publisher of the daily Al-Ahram (since 1875) is in 11th spot with 353829 followers, and has grown 357%.

Shorouk News (@shorouk_news) with 337 933 followers, growth of 227%

BBC Arabic (@bbcarabic) with 246272 has grown 186%, gaining some 160244 followers.

@nigerianewsdesk with 146976 followers in 37th spot up from 116th with a massive 353% growth has added 114453 followers.

None of the South African media accounts make it into the top ones. @news24 comes in at 45th and 5fm at 47th. All far outshone by our North and West African counterparts.

Other Notables

The top twitter user is Reverend Chris Oyakhilome (@pastorchrislive) with a massive 1062297 (yes thats over a million) followers. The growth in his following over the period has been a low 23467 (only 2%) and othes are catching first. If Dr Mohamed ElBaradei (@elbaradei) continues  with his current growth rate(159% growth – 377 795 followers in 8 months), then within a year he would have taken the  top spot.

South African comedian Trevor Noah (@trevornoah) is the standout South African celeb. In the period he has grown his following by a massive 220882, a 154% growth. While this isnt up to the 250-350% growth we were seeing in some of the top Egyptian twitter users it beats out most of his South African competitors.


There is a lot of information in the list. Each reader will take from it thoughts and opinions of their own. The above are some of mine, and I am sure I have missed a lot of insights, particularly around the information from the rest of Africa. I’m afraid my Arabic is pretty much non-existant so for a lot of them I was unable even to understand much about the individuals when trying to visit their websites.

Please share your thoughts, either in the comments or via emails. All will be taken into account where possible in the next run.


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Categories: Mobile, Research, Social Media

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