Every year, Google releases its annual “Year In Search” report which lists the top 10 searches for a number of topics from people, places, and memes, to movies, products, and questions.
Though generally insightful, the Questions category might be a favorite; it is as informative as it is comical. For Africa, the category reveals a people aware, with a myriad of country-specific curiosities and worldly interests.
Take Zimbabwe: Over 50% of the county’s 16 million people access the internet. This year, the country’s longest-serving president, Robert Mugabe, was ousted in a nonviolent military coup.
Although two of the top questions in the country’s google report reflected this dramatic change in the country’s politics (that is, “where is Emmerson Mnangagwa”, and “ what is impeachment”), two, were about love. Specifically, “how to make love” (# 5) and “what is love” (# 9).
Trends from the other Sub-Saharan African countries included in the report are just as interesting. In Nigeria, the most asked question of the year was, “Is Buhari dead”. Muhammadu Buhari, a second-time president of the country, spent a considerable amount of his second year in office outside of the country.
The other question, “who is Bobrisky”. Bobrisky, a Nigerian internet personality, crossdresser, and entrepreneur gained, even more, notoriety in the country after he was allegedly arrested for admitting he is gay.
Some questions stuck out in Kenya as well: “what is bitcoin” (#3) and “how to get pregnant” (#9).
In Ghana, two interesting questions surfaced: “what is a female hyena called” (#7) and not surprisingly, “what is the time in the USA” (#8).
Finally, in South Africa, the fourth most asked question was “what role does the private sector play in poverty alleviation”, and “how to make slime” was eight.
It is clear that although internet penetration still remains persistently low on the continent, with recent reports putting penetration rate of 31%, the lives of African google searches reveal a pretty nuanced reality – a continent both engrossed in its local politics and larger global trends.
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