How digital is driving media growth in Africa


AFFLUENT consumers in Africa are at the forefront of adopting new technologies and social media is now considered the first port of call for news, as they embrace digital technology more rapidly than affluent consumers in Europe.

The 5th Affluent Survey Africa, released by Ipsos on earlier this month, revealed that:

  • Despite internet penetration on the continent lagging behind other regions of the world, Africa’s affluent population have embraced digital technology more rapidly than their European counterparts: in fact, 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 percent 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 percent of this select group of people.

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

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

Social 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’ considers social media influential. Nine out of 10 African ‘Affluents’ use social media several times a day. 12 percent 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 percent of the affluent.


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 percent) 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 percent 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 percent); and 41 percent of the African affluent use their mobile phone for shopping, only slightly behind the desktop used by 43 percent for online purchases.

The Ipsos Affluent Survey Middle East is part of the Ipsos suite of Affluent surveys, which now covers Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia/Pacific, Latin America and the USA, spanning 50 countries and reflecting approximately 145 million adults.


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