Three Infographics, Two App Stores, One Country


That's hello in Portuguese.

Over the past few months, we've been taking a closer look at Kenya's digital landscape — the websites we visit most frequently and the apps we download the most.

The habits of Kenyans and Africans online have been mentioned in past newsletters — including our most recent issue — and we're eager to share the findings of our research with you.

First off, here are the Top Ten Desktop Websites. No surprises in the top three: Google, Facebook and YouTube are global internet powerhouses and Kenya is no exception.

Things do get interesting further down, with five of the top ten made up of either betting or adult entertainment sites, and the presence of the latter being reflective of a larger trend considering pornography is a mainstay of Google's top Kenyan search results stats, while betting — despite government efforts to impose steeper taxes, up to 35% on gross profits of all gambling — remains big business.

The list of Top Ten Andriod Apps also makes for fascinating reading, demonstrating the growth of digital loans which we've discussed before.

Mobile finance apps — Okash, Tala, Timiza and Branch — take up four slots, with the rest of the list made up of messaging, social media and e-commerce tools.

The Top Ten iOS Apps list has AliExpress (e-commerce) at the top, eight places above its position on the Android equivalent, with social and ride-hailing apps taking up a good chunk of the rest of the rankings.

Find all these lists on our blog here. What does this tell us?

  • Bang for Big Blue's Buck: Facebook in its various forms (Messenger, Lite) or as a service it owns (WhatsApp, Instagram) is present on each list. Their decision to split messaging from its primary app paid off despite initial doubts over whether users would be willing to cede valuable space on their phones for it, and their acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp continue to contribute to their near-ubiquity on homescreens and devices everywhere.
  • Android Dances to Opera's Tune: Opera News and Okash are first and third respectively on Android, a particularly impressive achievement considering the latter came out of beta as recently as March to overtake more established lending apps.
  • Alibaba & The Many Downloads: AliExpress, owned by Chinese tech conglomerate Alibaba, features among both the top Andriod and iOS apps, with no e-commerce rivals coming anywhere close, and Kenyans seemed to have settled on them for cheap and reliable online shopping options. I was shocked to be so late to discover them and learn about their free shipping options and the fact they deliver through the postal service.

That said, here's your tasting menu of links for the week.

What to Sip (<30 sec read)

“When’s the last time you saw an ad agency executive on the cover of Business Week? No one cares what they think. Don Draper has been killed, drawn and quartered. The big idea in advertising is a small idea nobody cares about.”

Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, is quoted extensively at the start of this piece by the New Statesman on the state of advertising today, provocatively titled “The death of Don Draper.”

With Facebook, Google and their algorithms hoovering up a greater and greater proportion of advertising budgets, Ian Leslie reflects on where this shift leaves the traditional advertising agency and the industry's future.

What to Nibble (<5 min read)

Misinformation — a topic we've come back to again and again, from Fake News to Cambridge Analytica.

Now, as WhatsApp takes steps to curb the spread of misinformation by labelling forwarded messages, restricting the reach of forwards and developing relationships with fact-checking organisations, parent company Facebook — dogged by misinformation woes of its own — has announced the WhatsApp Research Awards for Social Science and Misinformation, aimed at providing “funding for independent research proposals that are designed to be shared with WhatsApp, Facebook, and wider scholarly and policy communities.”

Facebook and WhatsApp have identified the following high priority areas:

  • Information processing of problematic content.
  • Election-related information.
  • Network effects and virality.
  • Digital literacy and misinformation.
  • Detection of problematic behaviour within encrypted systems.

It'll be fascinating to see the proposals and results of this exercise, and if — or how — Facebook and WhatsApp change their products based on what they find out.

Twitter suffers from many of the same problems its bigger rivals face, with The Guardian's reporting on fake accounts used during elections in Indonesia providing yet another example of how misinformation and hate speech on the platform is being leveraged by governments to shape the narrative in election cycles.

Despite Twitter fighting back with the much-talked-about purge of bots and suspicious accounts — something we also mentioned in The Letter N it's clear that there's still a long way to go in establishing Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social and messaging platforms as spaces free from political interference and false information.

What to bite (<20 min read)

There's much talk of the United State(s) of Africa but to do business across borders takes a lot. BCG's new Pioneering One Africa report boils the challenges down to:

  • A whopping 16 trade zones.
  • 80% of the continent requires visas to fly there (with my passport stuck somewhere at the moment and having missed two trips in the last few weeks, this one hits home).
  • Average time between major cities is 12 hours.

There's also the logistical fragmentation of the continent which, despite gains, is intriguing to wrap one's mind around. If there were two that I believed they missed I'd have singled out languages as a “barrier” and internet penetration and competition. I'd love to see those two as infographics.

There's also a handy thread on Twitter by Andrew Footie with the cliffnotes that runs through this, hat tip to Letter N subscriber Marcello Schermer.

“In Closing...”

We'd love your thoughts on the infographics from the top of this week's newsletter or anything else that might have caught your eye or piqued your interest, so if you'd like to share any ideas or feedback all you'll need to do is write to us at and we can take up the conversation from there.

Until next time,

Mark & Team Nendo.

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