TikTok’s Superstars In West Africa And Growing Market

Published 1 year ago
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In June, Senegalese-born Khaby Lame became the most followed star on TikTok. The social media app’s market is particularly growing in Africa’s biggest economy with more influencers tuning to it to make a living.

“During Covid I started posting videos on TikTok initially because I was bored.”

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has become one of the world’s most downloaded apps with more than 2 billion downloads according to figures from the platform.


In Africa too, the social media platform has made followers and fortunes for its many stars.

Senegalese-born Khaby Lame is one such example.

He became the most followed star on the social media app with 142.5 million followers in June this year, catapulting him from a humble factory worker living in Italy to landing glamorous and lucrative sponsorships with brands such as Hugo Boss.

His rise has resonated with Africans all over the world and the sensation to become the next big TikTok star has reached fever pitch particularly in Nigeria; little wonder for Africa’s biggest economy.


In recent years, the country is amongst the most active users of TikTok on the continent according to a report by international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

In recent times, the ‘Don’t leave me’ challenge created by Nigerian TikTok star Josh2Funny became a viral sensation attracting the likes of Greek-Nigerian NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and other Hollywood celebrities.

With an unprecedented youth unemployment rate in Nigeria, social media has become a medium for Gen Z creators to earn a living. Spurred on by the negative effects of the coronavirus, TikTok reportedly attracted millions of users who wanted an escape from the lockdown.

According to TikTok, its market share in Nigeria peaked at about 50% in 2021.


“During Covid, I started posting videos on TikTok initially because I was bored. Then I realized people were gradually engaging with my content and it became a form of therapy for me because it helped me cope with the stress of being in lockdown every day,” says EmekaG, a TikTok creator in Lagos.

Like him, many young Nigerian creators are hoping to build their own unique brand on the social media platform to help them engage with brands and ultimately make a living as TikTok influencers.

The appeal of the platform lies in its micro-video sharing interface which allows users to create short, funny videos and share them on the platform as well as other apps like Instagram.