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Kenyans Lead in TikTok Consumption: The African Country That Tops the World

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Technology has changed the way we interact and access information. We spend more time on our smartphones than consuming content on traditional platforms like television and radio. People love the fact that they get what they want and not what they are given. This is one of the reasons why Kenya leads in TikTok’s consumption. 

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What Data Shows

According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023, Kenya leads in TikTok consumption with 54% of users on the platform. More than half of the users, 29%, use the platform to receive news, which shows the shift in how people consume news in the country. 

While other platforms like WhatsApp (89%), Facebook (81%), and Instagram (70.2%) have a bigger share, TikTok is quickly catching up at 67.9%. – Statistica

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TikTok’s Popularity Explained

What’s contributed to the rise in the use of TikTok in Kenya?

Accessibility to Smartphones and the Internet

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), smartphone penetration in Kenya stands at 60.1%, as of December 2022. This shows that more people are plugging into the digital world. While the specific use of the smartphone hasn’t been tracked, it’s possible that it contributes to an increased usage of platforms like TikTok. 

Embracing Digital Innovation

The youth make up a large part of Kenya’s population. Most of them are tech-savvy and easily adapt to emerging digital trends. Their enthusiasm has contributed to the country being dubbed the Silicon Savannah of Africa. 

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Entertainment

TikTok has vibrant, fast-moving content that matches the energy of the young people. This is where their favorite celebrities also post content and can interact with them. TikTok is popular for challenges, and many young Kenyans don’t hesitate to jump on such trends to show their creativity and talents.

Content Creation

The lack of employment opportunities has driven a lot of young people online. With a high following and engagement on TikTok, they can earn money through endorsements and sponsorships, making a living.

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News Consumption

Young people rely on TikTok as a source of news. The quick and engaging nature of the platform allows them to catch up on the latest news. Also, the fact that they can upload what’s happening in real time and participate in the news cycle makes it a popular medium.  

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The Dark Side of TikTok

Kenya’s lead in TikTok consumption has also led to concerns over the kind of content young people are consuming. 

In 2023, the Executive Officer of Bridget Connect Consultancy, Bob Ndolo, petitioned the Kenyan parliament to ban the social media platform. He argued that it’s exposing young people to sexually explicit content, violence, and vulgar behaviors.  

He further warned that TikTok consumption might lead to mental health issues and a decline in academic performance. 

However, the Majority Leader of the House, Kimani Ichung’wa, and other members disagreed with a total ban. Instead, they said that regulation of content would curb the issue. 

Recently, the President of Kenya, William Ruto, held discussions with TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, and agreed to moderate content. Additionally, they also agreed to open a regional office in Kenya. 

Kenya’s lead in TikTok consumption isn’t surprising, considering the reasons we’ve outlined above. How often do you use TikTok? Do you think a ban should be imposed, or Kenya should have rigorous content moderation?

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