Facebook, Twitter and Television are the lead COVID-19 news sources in Africa

Facebook, Twitter and Television are the lead COVID-19 news sources in Africa

A survey conducted by Abjel Communications, a social enterprise communications agency operating across Africa has found that social media, alongside television have played a vital role in communicating news about COVID-19.

  • Facebook and Twitter are the most useful platforms for accessing COVID-19 news
  • Television is still the most dependable traditional news source for many on the continent
  • Ghana’s communication adjudged the best with Nigeria and Zimbabwe coming in as the worst

The survey examined how Africans are accessing news updates on the pandemic; which countries are best at delivering crucial information and which are failing.

COVID-19 cases have continued to rise across the continent, as those in the Far East and Europe fall. Identifying the most effective communication methods and media platforms will be essential to successful COVID-19 information dissemination.

The survey revealed the rising impact and importance of social media in sharing COVID-19 news with Facebook and Twitter playing key roles. The two social media platforms were tied at 43% each for being the ‘most useful’ for accessing COVID-19 information. Other platforms, such as Instagram (7%) and search engine Google (7%) appear to have far less of an impact.

Social media use across the continent is growing, with the number of Facebook users put at 139m, according to a Forbes article in 2018. Facebook accounts for 63 per cent of all social media traffic across the continent for the past 12 months, with Twitter just under four per cent according to data from statcounter.com. This only serves to highlight how important certain platforms are as avenues for COVID 19 information distribution.   

The survey also assessed the best and worst country communications in this crisis.

Ghana came out top, with more than a third of respondents (35%) recognising the country’s communication efforts. These efforts include at least 11 public addresses by President Nana Akufo Addo. In addition, the nation’s health ministry posts daily COVID-19 data on both Facebook and Twitter.

South Africa was rated second (21%) and Cabo Verde third (14%).

Frequency of updates (62%), clarity of message (46%) and the credibility of information (38%) were the main reasons for respondents’ choices.

However, the news was not so good for Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda, who were deemed the worst three countries at communicating COVID-19 news. The lack of updates (35%) and clarity of message (28%) were key factors in their low ranking.

Adisa Amanor Wilks, Managing Director of Abjel Communications, said: “As communications experts, it is important that we understand how people are accessing COVID-19 information across various countries on the continent. During a crisis, it is vital that information is accessible to all. In order to achieve this, communication must be designed around where the target audience is actively seeking this information and what that audience expects in terms of frequency and credibility. For those countries struggling to reach their citizenry, hopefully, this survey data will offer some direction.”

The survey was conducted on 22nd May 2020 and was completed by 1,025 respondents from across Africa.