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The Future of TikTok is African

Away from the controversies dogging it in Asia and North America, TikTok has quietly planted seeds over the past year that are germinating and shaping Africa into the social network’s latest bride. It has dedicated social media accounts for Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, and is aggressively drawing established influencers into its fold while organizing classes to train new influencers. It has created and promoted campaigns like the #MadibaJiveChallenge to get users in South Africa to mimic the dance steps of the late Nelson Mandela, as well as the Africa Day challenge centred around pan-African African Day celebrations on May 25. In April 2019, it held a Lagos meetup for social media influencers popular on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, including the popular Nigerian actress Maraji who now has 66,000 followers on TikTok. It has also organized two meetups with influencers in Kenya, where it has hitched its tent at a popular co-working space called Nairobi Garage. TikTok’s emphasis on Africa makes sense. It’s the world’s youngest continent — its median age is 20 years, compared to 27 in India and 38 in America. Internet penetration and smartphone density are also on the rise across Africa.