There has been a lot of curiosity about Zimbabwe’s Facebook population lately. Unfortunately Facebook doesn’t provide Zimbabwe’s Facebook stats because of, well, you guessed it, we’re a bad people. Or at least the targeted US sanctions say some leaders here are.
We’ve been curious too and have written to Facebook a couple of times. No response. We’ve also written to Socialbakers, the company known for Facebook stats but they too don’t have anything. Their final answer after some exchanges (some not so good) was:
I discussed this situation with our development department. The reason why Zimbabwe is not in our statistics is that Facebook API does not pull data for it. (As I mentioned in previous email). This “issue” is the main reason that caused this situation and unfortunately we are not in a position to influence it. We can only reach data that is pulled out of Facebook API.
I hope you understand this complicated situation and we apologize for inconveniences caused.
So anyway, the curiosity increased after we posted the Google Plus stats two days ago. Now instead of waiting for Zuckerberg to un-target Zim, or wait for some of our politicians to become more likeable people to the US, we thought we would just take figures from other African countries, average them and use the data to estimate to Zimbabwe’s stats. Rough estimate at best. Why not?
We used data from the top 10 list of African countries with the most internet penetration in Africa. Zimbabwe is number 10 on that list. The others are Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Algeria, Sudan, Kenya, Tunisia and Uganda. Of the 9, Sudan is apparently also has US issues so, effectively we were left with 8 countries, the following:
As you can see the average number Facebook users as a percentage of internet users in the 8 countries is 42%.
The percentage of Internet users that are on Facebook for each country was a bit unpredictable. Facebook is clearly not as popular everywhere as we thought. It’s clearly not very popular in Nigeria and Uganda where Facebook users are only 10% and 11% of the total number of internet users respectively. Compare that with Kenya’s 33% or South Africa’s 71%
Anyway, we conservatively (very) estimate the number of internet users in Zimbabwe to be 2.5 million. So: Econet says it has at least 2.1 million internet users and that’s 37% of its subscribers (well, SIM cards) using the internet. Now if we assume that both NetOne and Telecel have at least 20% of their subscribers (1.86m and 1.46m respectively) on mobile broadband, that’s an additional 600,000 people on the internet in Zimbabwe. And because we need to be as conservative as possible, let’s just assume that subscribers using fixed and mobile (WiMax) internet from the 14 internet access providers also have internet from either of the 3 mobile providers above. Let’s not count them and leave our total number of users at 2.7 million. But there’s the multiple SIM card issue as well. Let’s knock off 200,000 from our total to take care of the overlaps and remain with just 2.5m.
Now let’s apply our 42% Africa average to that figure. That give us some 1.06 million Zimbabweans on Facebook.
I’d say there’s definitely more, but I’d have no data to back this except that I know Zimbos love Facebook.