Vince Crawley's Africa Blog

Wired Africa

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on December 24, 2009
Facebook users in Africa - August 2009 - Source, Web Trends Nigeria

Facebook users in Africa - August 2009 - Source, Web Trends Nigeria


An article in the U.K. Guardian caught my eye. It points out Africa’s incredibly fast growth in online social networking.  

Africa sees massive growth in mobile web usage
Having swept America and conquered Europe, social networking site Facebook is now spreading rapidly through Africa.  

From the deserts of Libya to the plains of Tanzania, Facebook is fast becoming the continent’s most visited mobile site as Africans use their phones to access the internet, according to a new report.  

Even micro-blogging phenomenon Twitter is making an impact, appearing as the ninth most visited mobile internet site in South Africa and Kenya, according to a study by Oslo-based mobile software developer Opera of the top ten ‘mobile web’ countries in Africa.
… Google is either number one or two in every African state except Kenya where Yahoo dominates.  

Email services such as Hotmail and Gmail are also popular as is YouTube. The online video site has its highest rankings in Egypt, at number three, and Libya, at number four.  

Among news sources, the BBC figures strongly in the top ten most visited sites in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia. CNN features prominently in the top ten in Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia.  

This article actually was based on a press release by Opera, which makes mobile phone Web browsers. Some other stats by Opera:  

Trends in Africa
— The top 10 countries using Opera Mini in Africa are (in order): South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia.
— Some numbers regarding Africa: From November 2008 to November 2009, page-views in the top 10 countries increased by 374%, unique users increased by 177%, and data transferred increased by 183%.
— Since our last spotlight on Africa, Kenya jumped from #4 to #3, Ghana jumped from #11 to #5 and Ivory Coast jumped from #8 to #7.
— Growth rates in Africa: Ghana and Kenya lead the top 10 African countries in terms of page-view growth. Ghana and Ivory Coast lead the top 10 African countries in growth of unique users. Kenya leads the top 10 African countries in page-views, with each user browsing 525 pages on average each month.
— Facebook has taken the lead in Africa; it is the most popular site visited by Opera Mini users in six out of 10 countries and the #2 site in the three countries where it isn’t #1. Google is also very popular, and is ahead of Facebook in a few of the top 10 African countries. Yahoo and Wikipedia are also ubiquitous in the top 10 lists of the various African countries.
— Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets are extremely popular in Africa, but Samsung is a significant exception, boasting the most popular phone used by Opera Mini users in South Africa, Zambia and Namibia.  

According to Internet World Stats, internet usage in Africa is about 6.8 percent of the population, or roughly 70 million people. I’ve been tracking this Website for a couple of years now and have watched the number jump by more than 25 million people in just that time.  

The laying of new undersea cables (in part spurred by the 2010 World Cup) is expected to continue the rapid improvement of communications infrastructure.  

Also take a look at this press release from WorldWideWorx, which notes that “The number of people banking from their cellphones has exceeded that of people banking from their PCs in South Africa.”  

Finally, Web Trends Nigeria has fascinating stats on Facebook in Africa.  

Our last blog on Facebook users in Nigeria was June 12th 2009. A new review has been done (August 8, 2009) with a staggering increase in less than 2 months.  

Facebook Nigerian users was 489,500, it has increased by 25% to stand at 657,360. It is quite apparent how rapid Facebook is growing in Nigeria.  

Web Trends Nigeria includes the following stats:  

— Egypt – 1,814,960 Facebook users
— Nigeria – 657,360
— Morocco – 831,240
— South Africa – 1,896,060
— Kenya – 387,120
— Tunisia – 701,980
— Ghana – 205,400  


Half of Africa is Muslim

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on December 24, 2009

As many prepare to celebrate the Christian holiday, it’s interesting to bear in mind that half of Africa is Muslim.

I took this picture of the Great Mosque at Kairouan, Tunisia, also known as the Mosque of Uqba, in August 2008, and put it on our Website for Ramadan. Someone then found it and put it on a Wikipedia page.

AFRICOM Public Affairs Highlights – December 14-18, 2009 (Senegal, Stripes, and much more)

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on December 19, 2009

The past week was busier than most but also showed what we do at U.S. Africa Command public affairs.

  • We hosted a weeklong media delegation from Senegal.
  • A major interview with General Ward in Libya’s armed forces magazine was published.
  • Stars and Stripes, the independent overseas daily, published a sensitive story about preliminary discussions among the Marine Corps to possibly request the assignment of forces to the command (we don’t have assigned forces and haven’t asked for any).
  • Africa Command’s civilian deputy, Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, met with journalists in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo during his recent travels — resulting in stories in French, Portuguese and English and another in English (Holmes speaks French).
  • Special Envoy Gration visited our headquarters in Stuttgart. Photos here.
  • We did final coordination for TV spots on AFN with holiday greetings from our boss, General Ward, and his wife, Joyce.
  • I scanned a stack of Ward’s personal and career photos and scrapbooks for a background presentation connected to his receiving a major civic award next year.
  • We continued to field news media queries on reconnaissance aircraft in the Seychelles and requests to accompany U.S. forces in the trans Sahara region.
  • We continued a website redesign (hopefully to launch early in the new year) and continued layout for a photo magazine that will depict the work of Africa Command.
  • I also joined some other staff in a meeting with Washington, D.C.-based researchers who had questions about how we go about explaining Africa Command to Africans.
  • I met with a Harvard political science major who is studying the command as part of a Masters degree program.
  • Oh yes, somewhere in there my wife and I took one of the cars in for winter maintenance, and I had two dental appointments.

More about our Senegal visit

The weeklong visit to AFRICOM by a U.S. Embassy media group from Senegal is part of one of our most important programs, in which we coordinate with U.S. Embassies in Africa to bring Embassy-selected journalists to Stuttgart. (more…)

Close Call With My Dutch Army Knife

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on December 19, 2009

Back in 1983 (!) I was on a military training exercise at Princess Irene camp in the Netherlands and traded one of my “Hell on Wheels” 2nd Armd Div unit crests for a Dutch soldier’s pocket knife. Been carrying it ever since. It’s actually a plain stainless steel Swiss Army knife but with “KL78” stamped on it, the “K” probably standing for Royal something or other. I use it at least once a week for something or other. The blade’s horribly dull and chipped, but it has a screwdriver and useful hole punch.

Anyway, a few weeks ago we took a weeklong family vacation to Turkey. I was standing in the final security line at Frankfurt airport, running late for the plane, when I realized the pocket knife was still in my pocket. I’d been in such a hurry I didn’t put it in checked luggage as I usually do. Not wanting to make a scene at security and risk missing the flight, I dropped it in a trash can and grumbled to my wife that I’d had it for more than a quarter century. She told me to try running it through security and see what happens. I reconsidered, took her advice, fished it out of the trash, and plopped it in the x-ray basket along with my keys, wristwatch and cell phone.

The security screener of course saw it. (more…)

About Vince

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on December 12, 2009

An older version of my bio is swimming around online at

I’m deputy public affairs officer and spokesman for U.S. Africa Command. I’ve been working at the command since July 2007. This has involved quite a lot of explanation both of what the U.S. military does in Africa as well as what the U.S. military itself is really all about.

I expect to use this space for some discussions of U.S. AFRICOM as well as the appropriate role of militaries in support of their nations’ foreign policies. Sometimes, I might also just write about whatever catches my interest at the time.