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Africa’s goes atwitter over football

Dubai: For the people of Africa, football remains the most discussed topic on Twitter.

While the death of Nelson Mandela overwhelmed even football on Twitter boards and generated a record number of tweets across the continent, according to a new study, it did not take long for football to re-establish itself.

“Football is the most-discussed topic on Twitter in Africa… football is discussed more than any other topic, including the death of Nelson Mandela,” says a report by London based strategic communications firm Portland. “The most mentioned football team was Johannesburg’s Orlando Pirates.”

For those elsewhere in the world, elections could be a driving force to get Twitter-active, and US President Barack Obama was the most mentioned politician in the world on it at one point last year, the Portland findings record.

“There are subtle differences” and “there are cultural differences” of Twitter usage around the world, Mark Flanagan, head of digital at Portland, told Gulf News in a telephone interview. But, “essentially it is becoming a mainstream medium that you can really no longer afford to ignore.”

For example, the focus in Africa is on the social aspect. “Whether it is conversation with friends, or football or entertainment, it is a lot more conversational, a lot more focus around people’s social life,” Flanagan said.

While Johannesburg was the most active city in Africa, with 344,215 geo-located tweets, it is followed by Ekurhuleni municipality (also in South Africa) with 264,172, and Cairo with 227,509. In the Eastern part of Africa, Nairobi was the most active city with 123,078 geo-located tweets.

“English, French and Arabic are the most common languages on Twitter in Africa, accounting for 75.5 per cent of the total tweets analysed,” Portland said in a statement. Other most commonly tweeted languages in Africa include also Zulu, Swahili, Afrikaans and Portuguese.

However, in the West, there is more politics, and “it is much more around news and opinion generally,” Flanagan said.

According to the results of the survey on usage in the third quarter of last year, elections around the world played out on Twitter. The US, Mexican and Venezuelan elections were among the most discussed issues.

“Barack Obama was the most mentioned politician in the world, followed closely by Venezuelan presidential rivals Henrique Carpriles Radonski and [late Venezuelan President] Hugo Chávez,” it added.

In the Middle East, tweeting activities also have a lot of politics to them. Twitter, Flanagan said, has “became a powerful mainstream medium of communications, whether for governments or ordinary members of the public. It is just standard medium that everyone is comfortable to use.”