Gone Global: 4 African Influencers You Need To Know About

Gone Global is a Collabary series that aims to study the role of influencer marketing in regions outside of Europe and the West. By exploring influencers, campaigns, and trends in markets such as China, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and India, we can not only find inspiration from the exciting ideas coming out of some of the most lively and expanding economies in the world, but celebrate their cultures and the diversity of human creativity.

The second-largest and second-most-populous continent in the world, Africa is home to 54 nations that stretch out across both hemispheres. As the birthplace of the human species, there are countless cultures, languages, and ethnicities whose origins stem from Africa’s diverse landscape. 

It’s worth acknowledging that every nation within the continent is profoundly different from its neighbors. However, we have chosen to group the nations as a continent due to their shared colonial history and their subsequent economic growth post-emancipation. As the 21st century brings stability and a boom of foreign investment to the region, Africa has become home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. With 1.32 billion people living on the continent and 521 million of those internet users, we believe that it is necessary to dedicate time to explore the economic and marketing trends in Africa’s online sphere.

In this post, the sixth in our Gone Global explorations of influencer marketing after the Middle East, China, Latin America, India, Russia, and our white paper about the emerging BRIC states, we have again chosen to cover four local influencers that we feel represent the most interesting and educational facets of marketing trends in the region and why they are worth paying close attention to.

 

1. Maps Maponyane, South Africa

Photo credit: Maps Maponyane

Maps Maponyane is a South African TV presenter, actor, activist and influencer who has built up a fan base of 963k followers of his Instagram. Maponyane began his acting and modeling career at the age of 19, and over the last ten years, his profile has continued to expand. Thanks to his work and his proactive approach to philanthropy, he has become somewhat of a household name in his native country today, making him the perfect ambassador for numerous international and local brands.

His list of past and current brand partners boasts some prestigious and well-known names. On top of work with Adidas, he lent his face to the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, continues to collaborate with the Investec banking group and is currently an ambassador for Hugo Boss’ #SuitChallenge, which saw a group of influential personalities with a large young male following to create scenes of high-energy athleticism while wearing a Hugo Boss suit.

Considering that only 9% of South Africa’s population is on Instagram, Maponyane’s follower count of 1 million followers is commendable. Social media use across Africa is still in its relative infancy, with only 216 million people (17%) engaged in social media use across the continent. However, these figures are rising, with a population of active social media users up 17% from the year previously.

 

2. Afua Rida, Ghana

Photo credit: Afua Rida

Afua Rida is a Ghanian fashion blogger, stylist, consultant and influencer who has earned a name for herself through her dedication to showcasing upcoming African designers through her popular Instagram channel and blog. With 121,000 IG users following her travels, lifestyle and beauty advice, Afua expresses a singular vision across her platforms that are required following for those interested in modern African fashion.

Rida’s international big-name brand collaborators include the likes of Moët & Chandon and Walmart, but it is her promotion of lesser-known designers in the region that we find most inspiring. Recent ambassador work has included Ghanian designers Selina Beb and Larry Jay, and Yhebe Designs of the Ivory Coast.

Afua Rida’s promotion of local designers is important for the reputation of Ghana’s growing online economy. Of the 54 nations in Africa, Ghana’s online population is the most representative of the entire continents. Ghana has an internet penetration rate of 39%, which is roughly the same as Africa’s as a whole. With 80% of Africa’s population now having mobile subscriptions, representation of the merits of individual states’ cultures has never been easier or important.

 

3. Olupekan Tijesunimi, Nigeria

Photo credit: Olupekan Tijesunimi

Olupekan Tijesunimi is a Nigerian lifestyle blogger and influencer who represent the growing tide of micro-influencers coming out of Africa. With over 7,000 followers on his IG account tuning in to his travels and fashion tips, Tijesu, as he refers to himself, has been steadily attracting an audience with his distinct style, even recently being featured on global online Vogue channels for his colorful streetwear looks.

Recent collaborations have included brands like Budweiser which he has used to start a conversation around responsible drinking awareness, for which he is a campaign ambassador. A prolonged relationship with local drinks company Wilson’s lemonade has seen him post a number of sponsored posts for them over the last year as well as modeling for them in a print media campaign.

The use of micro-influencers – a category of influencers with a proven record of inspiring higher engagement rates amongst followers – will be tantamount to the success of IM in Nigeria and beyond. With 195 million residents, Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. Taking into account that Africa’s median age of 19.4 years is the youngest out of all global regions (the median age in the OECD is 42), the potential of Africa’s youth as a driver of consumer growth cannot be ignored.

 

4. Sharon Mundia, Kenya

Photo credit: Sharon Mundia

Sharon Mundia is a Kenyan fashion and lifestyle blogger and influencer who has steadily built a loyal following for herself through her Instagram account – on which she has 322k followers, her ThisIsEss YouTube account, and her personal blog. As an early adopter of commercial blogging, Sharon Mundia is one of the first Kenyans to become famous through their social media activity. 

Over the years, she has collaborated with brands like Clinique, MAC Cosmetics, and Samsung in offering honest testimonials on her website and on her IG account. Recently, she has been an ambassador for Kotex sanitary products, for whom she led a series of events for that encouraged young women to share cathartics stories while breaking the stigma around women’s health. 

Sharon, along with the other featured influencers, will be key to the growing e-commerce sector of Africa. As of 2017, e-commerce in Africa was valued at $16.5 billion. Recent reports suggest that this could climb anywhere from $29 billion in 2022 to $75 billion in 2025. However, these figures are not without controversy, as much of Africa still faces challenges with poor internet connectivity, a lacking number of bank accounts and an unreliable postal service. The progress of Africa as a region in the 21st century has so far been staggering, and there is much hope that the improvements of information technology will continue to bolster the region to more prosperity.

 

Summary

We are confident that as this happens, influencer marketing will be a key tool for brands to collaborate with young, creative, and cultured content creators to make meaningful connections with the bourgeoning online population.  

By taking note of influencer marketing trends in Africa, brands can ensure that their methods of marketing in the region are culturally relevant and effective. To summarize:

1) Africa has a population of 1.32 billion people, with 521 million of those internet users.

2) Social media use across Africa is still in its relative infancy, with only 216 million people (17%) engaged in social media, though the number of active social media users are up 17% from the previous year.

3) Africa has an internet penetration rate of roughly 39%, while 80% of Africa’s population have mobile subscriptions.

4) Africa’s median age of 19.4 years is the youngest out of all global regions. 

5) Africa’s e-commerce sector has been predicted to grow from $16.5 billion in 2017 to $29 billion in 2022 and even as high as $75 billion in 2025 depending on if logistical and technological problems can be overcome.