Category Archives: TNS

Local Content, Conversation & Branding in Africa

Late in 2010, TNS released a Kenya digital study as part of a three-month study of the habits of online Africans; In Kenya, it involved 800 interviews – 400 online, 400 face-to-face and tried to answer various questions like – Who is online? What are people doing online? How can brands connect? What messaging/digital communication channels are best?

Some findings included:

  • Internet penetration: Kenya & Uganda is 10%, Tanzania is 1.6%, Nigeria is 29%, Egypt 22%, South Africa 11%. In local capitals – 49% of Nairobi residents have tried the internet, 53% in Kampala, 31% in Dar es Salaam (and 42% & 49% in Mombasa & Arusha respectively) for an average of 45% of EA urban nationals.
  • Cyber café are the primary mode (67%) of access the Internet in Sub-Saharan Africa, but in Kenya its the mobile phone (60%)
  • Many people started using the Internet in the last two years and are on a learning curve; Companies need to make sure they educate the users on how to use their sites more effectively. This is compared to countries like Japan which has high internet penetration but low interest (its a part of life, no longer exciting)
  • In terms of daily media access, digital is still lower than conventional media – so companies/brands have to continue with old media; Also radio is very important, compared to global where radio trails TV
  • Top e-mail sites: Gmail Yahoo, Facebook, MSN
  • Top social networks: Facebook Google Yahoo Youtube
  • Top knowledge sites: Google Wikipedia Yahoo Daily Nation
  • Top news sites: Google BBC Standard Daily Nation
  • Top multimedia sites: Youtube Google CapitalFM Facebook
  • Very few people (7%) say they are shopping online
  • Kenyans (and Africans) want to do more activities online – like internet banking, pay utility bills, watch TV, make travel bookings, submit taxes, and advertise online. This will become an annual study by TNS to monitor trends in the online space.

One of their partners, VML (Kansas, US) also did a complementary study on digital monitoring of some Kenyan and African brands over several months this year using SEER ecosystem to find a link between bloggers and brands. They looked at mobile companies (Orange, Safaricom, Yu), countries as brands (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa) and banks (Stanbic, Ecobank)

Some findings:


  • Orange is way ahead of everybody else (846,000 mentions with 92% positive) but may have little to do with Kenya (more the international Orange brand)
  • Safaricom had 11,000 conversations online, with people talking about the business, Michael Joseph (outgoing CEO), but not about products & prices. 66% was positive, and this varied from month to month, with some negative on their customer service and competition/regulation.
  • Most intriguing – the bulk of conversation about Safaricom does not happen in Africa – it’s highest in the US, UK, and Germany. In Africa, there is some conversation in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa – and in Kenya it’s associated with 4 blogs (Kenyanjobs, siku-moja, bankelele, kenyaprincessproject)


  • Ecobank has 5,000 mentions, and Stanbic 900 mentions – but Ecobank spiked as a result of an unrelated Ecobank twitter account in Japan (not Africa) while for Stanbic it was due to coverage of a cricket tournament in Zimbabwe
  • The highest conversation about Stanbic is in the UK, while for Ecobank, it’s in the US.
  • There are very few conversations about banks or their business, and these are happening mainly outside Kenya and Africa (Ecobank is associated with this blog on the strength of a couple of blog posts about the bank’s 2010 AGM in Nairobi)
  • There is an opportunity for banks, to engage, and not just about Internet banking products.


  • Kenya tourism conversation is 81% positive, 16% negative – (jambo ad annoyed people on the net) – and again a lot of conversation in the UK and US.
  • While Kenya gets good conversation given the budget they spend, Kenyan tourism only gets as much positive conversation as Nigeria – showing a need for more positive content creation and engagement online.
  • Concern that despite the natural beauty of Kenya (wildlife, beaches, scenery), 0% is taking place on photo or image sites – a missed opportunity to create visual content.


  • Very little conversation about African brands is originating in Africa, and there are opportunities for links to be created either with influential blogs, or social media etc.
  • Complaints cause large spikes in conversation.
  • Companies need to monitor online conversations, beyond press clippings.
  • Companies need to incorporate digital plans in their branding exercise.