If you do a Google search with the following words: “Top YouTubers in Africa”, you would probably see the name, Caspar Lee, as No.1 on the list.
Actually, Casper Lee is a 25-year-old British-South African YouTube personality, vlogger, actor, and entrepreneur who started his channel in 2011 and built a following from his comical videos.
Though he spent his early childhood in South Africa, Caspar was born in the United Kingdom and he mostly lived there. It was from there that he became a hit, amassing over 7.5 million subscribers and over 850 million video views on YouTube, making him a formidable YouTube personality.
So, technically, the biggest homegrown YouTuber in Africa is not Caspar. Interestingly, that title belongs to one 29-year-old Nigerian comedian, scriptwriter, and video producer who oddly doesn’t have as much clout back home as he has loyal fans abroad.
With over 5.7 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views on his 200+ videos, Mark Angel is technically the biggest YouTuber in Africa.
The Nigerian is best known for the Mark Angel Comedy series of shorts on YouTube, often featuring child comedians such as his 9-year-old niece, Emmanuella Samuel, and her sister, “Aunty” Success Madubuike (age 5 as of 2019).
Mark Angel’s YouTube channel was the first African comedy channel to reach one million subscribers.
Mark Angel was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. He had a stint at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Osun State, Nigeria, where he had been accepted to study medicine, but he eventually abandoned his studies due to family reasons.
After he left college, he spent time in Nigeria gaining experience in cinematography and theater. In 2013, he began independent filmmaking under the name, Mechanic Pictures, having been unable to find stable work in Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood.
His skits became an instant hit. In 2017, Mark Angel Comedy received a plaque from YouTube for having reached one million subscriptions. It was the first Nigerian-based YouTube channel to reach that threshold.
Mark Angel’s niece, Emmanuella, has won comedy awards in Nigeria and Australia for her work with Mark Angel and is Africa’s youngest YouTube award winner.
In 2018, she even bagged a nomination in Nickelodeon’s famous Kids’ Choice Awards. Mark Angel Comedy videos can reach up to a million views during the first week after posting.
Few people know it but Mark Angel is, by some distance, Africa’s most successful YouTuber.
Short Answer: It’s probably because Nigerians don’t care about YouTube and YouTubers that much, at least, not as much as they care about other social platforms.
As a matter of fact, compared to other social media platforms that are popular in Nigeria like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram, YouTube has only a tiny fraction of active users of which only an even smaller fraction can be termed “consistent users.”
Maybe it’s not even Mark Angel, perhaps the fact of the matter is that most Nigerians don’t even know any of the biggest YouTubers in Nigeria.
Hootsuite’s State of Digital report placed the number of internet users in Nigeria at 98.39 million as of 2019.
Of the 98.39 million Nigerian internet users, it was found that 54 percent access the internet on a daily basis while only 12 percent (24 million) have active social media accounts.
Additionally, WhatsApp was found to be the most active social media platform in the country with 85 percent of internet users. Facebook placed second with 78 percent, Instagram came third at 57 percent, followed by FB Messenger at 54 percent.
YouTube is only fifth on the rankings with 53 percent. And that says a lot about the popularity of the platform in Nigeria, and by extension, the popularity of the rockstars on the video-sharing platform in these parts.
Despite the increase in the number of internet users in Nigeria, overall internet penetration remains quite low, with only about 50 percent of the population connected to the internet, compared to the global average of 57 percent.
Besides that, many Nigerians who have access to the internet cannot afford to stream videos online, plus there’s the issue of spotty internet connections.
All these hamper YouTube usage in Nigeria, making the platform less popular and less frequently-used than other social platforms. It’s for this reason that the likes of Mark Angel get the bulk of their viewership from abroad.
“It is very discouraging for me as a video content creator,” lamented Tobi Ayeni, a YouTube creator popularly known as MissTechy, who spoke to TechPoint last year.
“Imagine going through a lot of stress to shoot and upload a great video, only for people to watch just the first one minute or skim through because they are trying to manage the data they have,” she complained.
It’s a feeling shared by Dimma Umeh, a fast-rising Nigerian vlogger who runs a fast-growing YouTube channel where she bosses all things, fashion, makeup, and lifestyle, though, according to her, things are beginning to improve.
“I would say that adoption [of YouTube] has been gradual, especially when compared to other platforms where we often create short-form content,” she tells WeeTracker.
“In the past two years, however, creators like me have seen a sharp increase in the number of viewers viewing from Nigeria and that gives us hope.”
Dimma also highlighted the importance of balancing Youtube presence with mainstream social media visibility, especially in a market like Nigeria where it’s a lot harder to rack up the number of views that would see one earn substantially from the Google-owned platform.
Typically, YouTube creators earn through Google’s advertising network, AdSense, brand integrations in videos, and sponsored videos. Some creators use all of these means to generate revenue while others depend solely on AdSense.
In Nigeria, YouTubers have a somewhat better shot at earning via sponsored videos and brand integrations. This is why mainstream social media visibility is important even for the bigger YouTubers like Mark Angel who can be said to be struggling to cut it on the broader social media scale, which is probably why most people don’t know how big they actually are.
As Dimma Umeh puts it, “I believe that it is extremely important. Cross-sharing on other social media platforms increases your chances of overall visibility and success. It also introduces you to potential subscribers every time you share new content. If for nothing else, it makes non-consumers aware that you exist.”