Africa is a thriving yet diversified continent with a rising media industry. On the world’s second most populated continent, the recorded 328 million consumers are on average under the age of 15 (38%) and 16% of those fall into the LSM8+ category. A predominantly large youth market opens up the field to advertisers wishing to create brand awareness and loyalty early on in a maturing African market. In order to supply advertisers with more comprehensive information about the African consumer, Ask Afrika recognised the need for more consistent research, which enables apples to be compared with apples. There is a need for a global benchmark where Africa can be accurately compared with its competitors.
Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola and Egypt fall below the average literacy level of 79%. Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe fall below the average urbanisation level of 42%. All this considered, there remains a need for a consistent measure of affluence across the different African markets in order to provide more workable, balanced and comparable research.
The existing media audience research in Africa is difficult to compare owing to the diversity of the markets and the diverging dynamics. The need for a more consistent research approach was identified.
To determine the size of the African consumer market, affluence across 14 African countries was measured according to the LSM8+ standard. It was found that South Africa had the highest percentage of affluence with 24%, followed by Kenya with 22%. Trailing behind, with a LSM8+ level of 9%, are Angola and Tanzania. In total 16% of the population across these 14 countries was LSM8 and higher. These numbers must be read with caution as they do not reflect a steady measurement of socio-economic levels across the different countries.
Further relevant statistics that reflect the character of typical African consumers are urbanisation and literacy. The literacy levels in South Africa and Zimbabwe are considerably impressive at 99% and 91%. The lowest literacy rating is Ghana’s at 58%. Urbanisation is relatively high in South Africa at 62% and considerably low in Uganda at 9%. A low urbanisation and literacy level can lead to a fragmentation of research. Also comparison between countries with high and low urbanisation and literacy levels becomes more difficult.
When considering African media audiences, it is important to take into account the variety of languages within that country. Media is conveyed through language after all. Countries with a large number of languages are Zambia, with 13 official languages, and South Africa and Namibia, with 11. Countries like Zimbabwe and Tanzania, with only three languages, are less diversified.
Research was done to see which were the preferred mediums in various countries. Media audiences were compared across 12 African countries, media channels such as radio, television, out of home (OOH), magazines, internet and newspapers were considered. The research reflects that radio, television and OOH are the most consumed channels of media across Africa, averaging a past seven days percentage of 86%, 65% and 62% respectively. The research also reveals that internet has a higher consumption rate than magazines. Furthermore, cellphones are also very popular in Africa with 118 million mobile users across 12 countries. This opens Africa up to online growth as the internet is easily accessible through mobile devices.
The large youth market accounts for the high usage of internet on cellphones. Noteworthy is Uganda with a substantial 49% of its population being 15 years old or younger and Mauritius with only 20% of its population being under 15. On average, the research has revealed, that 38% of the population of African countries is younger than 15. This implies that there is a predominantly large youth market, a dynamic of which media owners and advertisers should be cognisant.
All this considered, Ask Afrika recognised that coherent audience research, spanning various countries on the continent, was required to give media planners and strategists the requisite tools to actualise the potential of the African media landscape. There is a call for a more consistent, benchmarked measure across African markets that will give a more consistent view of similarities and differences between media consumption patterns on the continent.
This post was first published in the March 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
Dr Amelia Richards is client services director at Ask Africa. Ask Africa operates in a dozen African continental territories. www.askafrika.co.za
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