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Kenya top market for Korean pop music in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Winnie Mabel December 15th, 2022 2 min read

Kenya has been ranked as the second top market for Korean pop (K-pop) music in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the findings by Spotify in their annual Spotify Wrap analysis – a compilation of data by Spotify for users regarding their activity on the platform – Kenya is in position two out of 10 only behind South Africa in position one.

The other Sub-Saharan African countries in the top 10 listing are Nigeria, Mauritius, Ghana, Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana.

Spotify also found that the top streamed K-pop artistes in the aforementioned countries were boy band BTS, Stray Kids, girl band Black Pink, Tomorrow X Together, Twice, artiste J-hope, Enhyphen, Jungkook, Ateez and Seventeen.

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“Surprisingly, there’s been a 93 per cent year-on-year increase in K-pop streams in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, accounted for by over 3 billion hours of streaming. It’s clear from this data that K-pop is not just a passing phase, but has a devoted and growing African fandom. Some of the key markets contributing to this increase are Nigeria, where there was a 267 per cent increase in K-pop streams, Ghana with 236 per cent and Kenya with a 140 per cent increase,” said Phiona Okumu, Spotify’s Head of Music for Sub-Saharan Africa.

With this trend, western and European music no longer dominates music scenes across Africa as other genres have been competing and stamping their authority in various countries.

National Geographic was among organizations that attributed the global rise of K-pop to the Covid-19 pandemic which inadvertently focused the world’s attention on this East Asian cultural powerhouse. Millions around the world spent their time binge watching K-dramas like Squid Game, and at the same time, discovered multiple facets of Korean culture. Additionally, internet penetration across Africa was also noted as a reason for K-pop’s increase in popularity.

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A recent survey which polled 400,000 BTS fans around the world, determined that approximately 50 per cent of their fans are under the age of 18, with a further 42 per cent aged 18-29. Spotify’s Wrapped data for Africa paints a similar picture – with a combined 88 per cent of K-pop music streams coming from people under the age of 29.

“In an increasingly connected world, on-demand streaming services like Spotify have certainly made it easier than ever to tap into another country’s music. Streaming has become instrumental in not only enabling the discovery of African music abroad but also in exposing African listeners to new and unexpected sounds,” added Phiona Okumu.

The most streamed K-pop songs in Sub Saharan Africa were My Universe- BTS, Coldplay, Left and Right (feat. Jung Kook of BTS) – Charlie Puth, Dynamite – BTS, Money – Lisa, Butter – BTS, Stay Alive (Prod. SUGA of BTS) – Jung Kook, Yet To Come – BTS, Christmas Tree – V, Run BTS – BTS, and Pink Venom – Black Pink.

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