Is South Africa Ready for Social Media?

Social media may not catch on as quickly in South Africa as it has in other countries due to the fact that most of the nation is still in a very fragile state. If you take a look at their social and political factors, it’s been fifteen years since the end of the apartheid in 1994 and still for the majority of the black population nothing much has changed. south africa

Economically speaking, the country’s wealth is controlled by a select few. About a quarter of the population lives on less than US$ 1.25 a day. This disproportionate distribution of wealth means that for many South Africans computers and mobile phones are luxury items that only the very rich can afford.

So social media strategy and social media marketing online in South Africa is only existent for a small minority of the privileged population, who utilize South African social media tools such as Muti,, Amatomu or Afrigator. The rest of the population who may only have limited access to computers through work or school often only access the web to check the odd e-mail.

“You then find a situation like you have at present in the online Web 2.0 South African zoo, those who have been benefitting from apartheid through privileged education and upbringing and access to good education and resources banding together only with those from similar privileged backgrounds.” Mario Olckers, from the Social Media Today Blog

So the question that comes to mind is…How can business be conducted through social media if the majority of the population has no clue as to what blogging, facebook, and twitter mean? The only way that South Africa can truly embrace social media is to first embrace the legacy of apartheid and the fact that it has been difficult to compensate quickly for generations of educational and social neglect.

In order for social media to fully encompass the diversity of thought and cultures that South Africa has to offer it must first be made available to ALL people.


5 Responses to Is South Africa Ready for Social Media?

  1. Heather Lovett says:

    I agree with this post. Although apartheid is over in South Africa it still plagues the citizens. White South Africans fear they have lost majority rule and black South Africans haven’t seen much improvement over the past couple of years. Although it will take some time, I think social media can be utilized to educated South Africans and bridge gaps between all groups of people living in the country. Maybe then change will be more predominant.

  2. The point you make in the title of your post is likely a very valid one about whether South Africa is even ready for social media or actively using it. What is missing from several of your points, though, is some supporting evidence for the points that you share. If you’re quoting from a source when you talk about how “little has changed”, make sure to share it. You also note that 25% of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day … but this also means that 75% of the population of South Africa has more than $1.25 per day, which puts them far ahead of much of the rest of Africa. Either way, when you write a post that is more critical, it’s the external support that will really help you to make your case. (2)

  3. Shannon Barrett says:

    I like how you addressed the underlying problem that not everyone in South Africa has access to the internet or social media platforms. I found the topic this week especially challenging because of the strong opinions on both sides of the “apartheid is over” argument and thought you did a nice job of touching on a difficult situation.

  4. shayvg says:

    I think you definitely address a problematic issue that may still exist in South Africa. Yet, what was interesting to see in some of the articles that I read that week, were that many South Africans are prideful and definitely won’t to put this shadow from their past behind them? I would definitely want to see some of your articles that suggested otherwise. It’s great to get the whole picture.

  5. mintybeth says:

    Like my post, you also touched on the racial divide in social media in South Africa. It seems that in the developing countries or in areas stricken by poverty that the only media that crosses economic boundaries is text messaging (SMS). I have traveled the world to the Philippines, Belize, Mexico, and Europe and I find that mobile phones are one of the few communication devices that most people have. Yes, the models may vary, but there is nothing quite like being on the water in a remote village and seeing people sending SMS messages to friends. The phone call would be too pricey, but SMS allows easy, instanteous communication, regardless of color.

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