Tweeps, Trends and Tags That Defined 2016

By David Indeje / Published December 27, 2016 | 6:07 am

They are known as the Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) and whose power cannot be disputed. On Twitter, they furiously engage. Positively. Negatively. Intelligently. Stupidly.

On Facebook, they deeply engrossed in sharing and commenting on videos both local and nationally and on Whatsapp, more like the confidant father, they share their heart most felt feelings. A place they think they will find solace. Soul mates and at the same time it is a place where they source for information to leak to other social spaces.

Instagram for Kenyans is a place where they gain bragging rights for the places visited, food eaten a place they floss with their new dressings among other social aspects that will make them gain more double taps or followers.

It is this ferocious power that KOT or Kenyans on Social media wield that forced the Kenyan government to deport Koffi Olomide, one of Africa’s most popular musicians, physically assaulting a woman at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport using #KoffiOlomideDeported

A quick look at the facts will perhaps help to understand these different scenarios before we get to the winners and losers for 20166.

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) Telecommunications Sector statistics for Q2 of 2016, mobile subscriptions rose by 3.7 percent to 39.7 million from 38.3 million registered in the previous quarter hence achieving a 10 percent year to year growth with mobile penetration increasing by 0.9 percent to 90 percent from 89.2 percent registered in the previous quarter.

The total number of Short Messaging Service (SMS) sent during the quarter increased significantly by 78.5 percent to 11.6 billion messages from 6.5 billion registered in the last quarter.

Internet subscriptions grew by 8.2% to 26.8 million during the quarter under review up from 24.8 million subscriptions recorded last quarter. This represents an increase of 35% compared to the 19.9 million subscriptions reported during the previous year.

The number of broadband subscriptions in Kenya increased remarkably by 36.7% per cent during the quarter to reach 10.8 million subscriptions up from 7.9 million subscriptions recorded in the preceding quarter resulting in broadband penetration of 24.5%.

Further, the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) State of the Internet in Kenya 2016 report under the iFreedoms Kenya project states, “While Social Media, and the Internet in general, has played a significant role in the past year, transforming lives and providing public interest news, there have also been concerns on its use with some calling for its regulation. Moreover, the possibility to either shut down the internet during the 2017 General Elections in whole or in part remains a glaring possibility. In addition, the acquisition of a spy software FinFisher by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and its utility to monitor and possibly bring down web platforms is alarming.”

A critical aspect that was highlighted in the report is that, “Kenyans online have also not been spared

the wrath of excessive force and impunity. The use of ‘improper use of licensed telecommunication gadget’ under Section 29 of the Information and Communications Act was rampant. It criminalized publishing information online which is deemed unlawful by the authorities. The section has since been declared unconstitutional.”

2016, Kenya made a milestone. The Access to Information Act (2016) was passed in to law. The Act provides the processes by which citizens, it defines who is a citizen, can request for information from public entities and relevant private institution. It also penalizes the withholding of information by public information officers.

In 2013, Kenya was among 160 countries that Twitter introduced Trends – Trends are an easy way to find out what people are talking about right now –– around the world, in your country, or in your city. 

Brands that stood out

Safaricom: The company has two accounts, the company and its customer care @SafaricomLtd and @Safaricom_Care. They have the largest audience and lead the rest in growth followed by Kenya power and Kenya Airways. This is besides its rival Airtel Kenya being named Africa’s top social media brand in telecommunication on social media for the month or April 2016.

On the business front, the CEO Bob, Colymore said, “Safaricom Numbers are a Fulfilment of Our Purpose,” after the company reported a rise of 30.8 percent of its Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) for the first half of 2017 compared to a similar period last year to KSH 50.8 billion.

In August, the market capitalisation of the Nairobi Securities Exchange grew by Sh42 billion on the back of a gain on the Safaricom stock. Thus, most analyst say the brand has maintained a consistent increase in market share prices.

Kenya Airways (@KenyaAirways):  Commonly known as KQ – Pride of Africa- has a Twitter following of 455 351. Besides its financial woes, problems at the management level and its workers, Kenya Airways is one of Africa’s leading air passenger carriers consistently winning top industry awards. “016 it was   adjudged Best Airline in Africa in the World Travel Awards 2016 and won Africa’s Leading Airline-Business Class award in the World Travel Awards 2015.

Kenya Airways’ Marketing Director Chris Diaz on Kenya Airways as a Pan-African airline sums it all, “I think it’s important for us (the airline) to know the African brand experience and to know the African stories of how KQ connects Africa to the world and brings the world into Africa. This is not only about the pride and the emotion of the people of Africa but also about the iconic experiences and destinations, as well as all the great things about Africa including the world class culture, food, music, fashion, sports and the leaders of Africa.”

Because of this, Kenya Airways has developed an app to makes it possible for passengers to manage their flights from the convenience of their palms.

Chase Bank Kenya (IR):  This is a bank that was placed into receivership in April by the Central Bank of Kenya after it faced the wrath of the ever hawk eyed KOT who caused panic withdrawals due to “inaccurate” rumours on social media. However,

However, Twitter Thumbs Up to KCB Group, from what began as a tweef ended up being a dream come true when it came to its rescue.

Dr. Patrick Njoroge, the CBK Governor has a stated that the bank might be out of receivership during Q1 2017.

““Chase bank is a good story for Kenya, the region, Africa and the world in terms of how it has been managed,” said the Regulator.

Chase bank was the third medium-to-small lender to be placed under receivership over a period of nine months after Dubai and Imperial Bank of Kenya.


The list on personalities has focused on Kenyans on Twitter. This is because besides being on other social platforms, in Kenya conversations begin from Twitter and trickle down to the rest.

Lupita Amondi Nyong’o, leads the pack among Kenya’s most influential 2016 personalities. With a great following on her social media profiles, she was ranked top in 2014 and 2015 and this year she has not disappointed.

As the young and old keep looking upto her, she says, “A film cannot change a life. It can reflect life, but it on its own cannot change things. What is important is that, when a film touches you, what it affects you to do, is valuable,” Lupita said when asked how Africans can uplift themselves long after the spotlight brought by Queen of Katwe into the continent has died down.

Boniface Mwangi: an award-winning Kenyan photojournalist involved in social-political activism through his initiative Team Courage. He was among the 2016 Business Daily Top 40 under 40 men. He has inspired daring protests that seek justice. The current one being Take back Kenya.

He sat for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination this year after being expelled from Kabete Approved School in October 1998 while in Form One.

To crown his efforts, he has a book, Unbounded – a 350-page compilation of his personal stories and the pictures that have defined his life.

The NewAfrican Magazine has also ranked him among the 100 most Influential Africans 2016 for having devoted himself to activism as a patriotic duty to speak up against injustice. He keeps inspiring the youth through his social movement #TeamCourage.

The Late Jacob Juma: Jacob Juma @kabetes was a Kenyan businessman and government critic who was born on November 12th 1971 and assassinated in his car on 5 May 2016 by unknown gunmen.

He also topped the 2016 most searched personalities according to Google besides the late Lucy Kibaki, wife to President Mwai Kibaki.

According to Forbes, “He was an outspoken critic of the Kenyan government, often accusing the President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto, and other key government officials of mishandling public funds.”

Like a premonition, he raised the red flag that he would be assassinated and indeed it came to pass. His assailants are yet to be known to date.

Other Kenyan tweeps who have shaped online conversations in 2016  include: The ascending order shows their impact in the conversations generated.

  • Cyprian, Is Nyakundi @C_NyaKundiH
  • David Ndii @DavidNdii
  • Dr. Patrick Njoroge @njorogep
  • Jeff Koinange @KoinangeJeff
  • Binyavanga Wainaina @BinyavangaW
  • Jackson Biko @bikozulu
  • Larry Madowo @LarryMadowo
  • Rose Wangui @Rosiewangui
  • Ezekiel Mutua @EzekielMutua
  • Ahmednasir Abdullahi @ahmednasirlaw
  • Ahmed Mohamed @asmali77
  • Wanjeri Nderu @WanjeriNderu
  • Schea Of Sheba @scheafferoo
  • Ory Okolloh Mwangi @kenyanpundit
  • Kenyan Facts @KResearcher

Top 2016 trending Twitter hashtags


#CorruptionIsTheReasonWhy #WeAreACorruptNationBecause : These are some of the popular online conversations that generated a lot of issues around graft in Kenya. After President Uhuru Kenyatta while in Israel said Kenyans are, “experienced in stealing, insulting and perpetuating other crimes.” This prompted Kenyans to express views on why their own state was corrupt. 

#LipaKamaTender : Lipa Kama Tender was the clarion call uniting striking Kenyan Doctors in Kenya in the month of December. The slogan was inspired by the inspired by scandals that had embroiled the government. The Doctors urged the government to implement the agreed 2013 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) deal as regards to their pay and job scales.

#HangWaiguru : Kenyans took to the social media and poured out their feelings on the rampant corruption in Kenya using this hashtag. Anne Waiguru, former Cabinet Secretary for Devolution who bowed to pressure and relinquished her position as the Cabinet Secretary following a mega corruption scandal that hit her ministry. In response this is what she said:

#ItsOnlyInKenyanSchools:  This was used by Kenyans to fondly reminisce their school days and took the opportunity to raise issues on the quality of teaching just after schools re-opened for the second term.

#Langata #Lions #LionsDayOut #lionsontheloose:  These are hashtags that were synonymously kept straying from the Nairobi National Park. The hastags created a frenzy among the online community – corporates, companies and brands- to use for marketing their products and services.

#WorthMoreAlive : This was used by the online community to share concerns about the crisis facing African elephants from poaching and illegal trafficking and has proposed a ban on trade in modern day ivory as a step towards a total ban. This culminated in the torching of ivory by President Uhuru Kenyatta estimated to be worth Sh 31 billion on April 30.

#JacarandaPropaganda : This was a feel good online conversation about Nairobi’s jacaranda trees that were blooming. Quartz described the conversion as need to, “highlight the disappearing trees of a city once nicknamed “green city in the sun.” The conversation led to #jacarandaPropaganda tree planting events with their slogan, “Stop and smell the purple flowers”.


#Rio2016: The 2016 Olympics games in Rio took the top spot on Twitter’s global trend list

#Election 2016: This referred to the US 2016 election where focus was on Republican’s candidate Donald Trump and Democrat’s candidate Hillary Clinton played out.

#BlackLivesMatter:  Black Lives Matter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime. It is a hashtag that is used to campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people.

#Brexit: The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union is widely known as Brexit, a portmanteau of “British exit”.

#Euro2016: The 2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2016 was the 15th UEFA European Championship, organised by UEFA

#PokemonGo: Pokemon Go is a mobile game that involves augmented reality to deliver a real-life game experience. This allows people to capture their favorite Pokemon in the real world using the same technology Google Maps uses.

Top 4 Popular Social Networking Sites in 2016

  • Facebook
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Future Trends

In Africa, threats to internet freedom is real.

Most states, government officials are now aware of the power of technology and how access to internet drives information. Some African Governments have responded to the rise of internet penetration rates and the rise of user-generated content by establishing mechanisms to block what they deem to be undesirable information.

For instance, Ethiopia, Burundi, Gambia, Uganda, Mali are some of the countries that have blocked internet on various occasions.

Kenya has not been left behind, the government introduced Section 29 of the Kenya Information communications Act ‘improper use of telecommunication system’ and in part ‘one who sends a message that he knows to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another person, commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh 50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both.’

Fortunately, the section was declared unconstitutional by the High Court.

However, current developments as Walubego puts it, it is not easy to have a complete internet shut down, but “They can achieve the same effect by shutting down selected zones of the country as and when they deem it necessary.”


About David Indeje

David Indeje is a writer and editor, with interests on how technology is changing journalism, government, Health, and Gender Development stories are his passion. Follow on Twitter @David_IndejeDavid can be reached on: (020) 528 0222 / Email:

View other posts by David Indeje

More Articles From This Author

Trending Stories

Other Related Articles



  • January 2022 (293)
  • February 2022 (329)
  • March 2022 (361)
  • April 2022 (294)
  • May 2022 (271)
  • June 2022 (187)
  • 2021
  • January 2021 (182)
  • February 2021 (227)
  • March 2021 (325)
  • April 2021 (259)
  • May 2021 (285)
  • June 2021 (273)
  • July 2021 (277)
  • August 2021 (232)
  • September 2021 (271)
  • October 2021 (305)
  • November 2021 (364)
  • December 2021 (250)
  • 2020
  • January 2020 (272)
  • February 2020 (310)
  • March 2020 (390)
  • April 2020 (321)
  • May 2020 (335)
  • June 2020 (327)
  • July 2020 (333)
  • August 2020 (276)
  • September 2020 (214)
  • October 2020 (233)
  • November 2020 (242)
  • December 2020 (187)
  • 2019
  • January 2019 (251)
  • February 2019 (215)
  • March 2019 (283)
  • April 2019 (254)
  • May 2019 (269)
  • June 2019 (249)
  • July 2019 (335)
  • August 2019 (293)
  • September 2019 (306)
  • October 2019 (313)
  • November 2019 (362)
  • December 2019 (318)
  • 2018
  • January 2018 (291)
  • February 2018 (213)
  • March 2018 (275)
  • April 2018 (223)
  • May 2018 (235)
  • June 2018 (176)
  • July 2018 (256)
  • August 2018 (247)
  • September 2018 (255)
  • October 2018 (282)
  • November 2018 (282)
  • December 2018 (184)
  • 2017
  • January 2017 (183)
  • February 2017 (194)
  • March 2017 (207)
  • April 2017 (104)
  • May 2017 (169)
  • June 2017 (205)
  • July 2017 (189)
  • August 2017 (195)
  • September 2017 (186)
  • October 2017 (235)
  • November 2017 (253)
  • December 2017 (266)
  • 2016
  • January 2016 (164)
  • February 2016 (165)
  • March 2016 (189)
  • April 2016 (143)
  • May 2016 (245)
  • June 2016 (182)
  • July 2016 (271)
  • August 2016 (247)
  • September 2016 (233)
  • October 2016 (191)
  • November 2016 (243)
  • December 2016 (153)
  • 2015
  • January 2015 (1)
  • February 2015 (4)
  • March 2015 (164)
  • April 2015 (107)
  • May 2015 (116)
  • June 2015 (119)
  • July 2015 (145)
  • August 2015 (157)
  • September 2015 (186)
  • October 2015 (169)
  • November 2015 (173)
  • December 2015 (205)
  • 2014
  • March 2014 (2)
  • 2013
  • March 2013 (10)
  • June 2013 (1)
  • 2012
  • March 2012 (7)
  • April 2012 (15)
  • May 2012 (1)
  • July 2012 (1)
  • August 2012 (4)
  • October 2012 (2)
  • November 2012 (2)
  • December 2012 (1)
  • 2011