Social webs in Africa
Today I was interviewed by the German radio station "Deutschland Radio Kultur." The interview is now available as a podcast at blogspiel.de. The interview's main topic was Social Webs in Africa, stressing general issues about connectivity in Africa and social web such as the blogosphere. Thanks to Sokari Ekine I got a latest update particularly on web activism in Africa.
I began the interview by explaining that the development of the web in Africa varies between countries, in particular inside countries. If you take the example of Egypt, you will find that in Cairo the broadband connections are easily available and a dial-up connection costs about 15 cents an hour. But in landlocked countries such as Uganda, satellite connection is often the only choice and is much more expensive. Consequently, the Internet is still used only by a minority, and participation in the social web is much smaller compared to Europe or Latin America.
I also explained that it is not only a question of infrastructure to achieve better access to the Internet, but another challenge is the "media competence" to know how to deal with the Internet and find out how to use tools such as blogs or social networks -- It took 10 years to get at least half of the German population to use the Internet. This is very different as with the mobile phone, which has an incomparable penetration rate and is well accepted and used for all kinds of things -- often very different to other continents. "It is the mobile phone, where it is happening" said Sokari Enkine. I am looking forward to see soon more applications, which bridge the web and the mobile phone, being developed. By no surprise Kenya was the first country worldwide, which introduced mobile banking. I imagine the intensive networking (especially through blogs) will be one driver for new innovations.
According to Sokari there has been an exponential growth for the last 12 months both in the francophone and anglophone part of Africa. Also, thanks to aggregators such as Afrigator.com or Amatomu.com and new social network platforms such as Africaloft and Africanpath. From my point of view, particularly in Egypt but also in other African countries such as Zimbabwe, the blogosphere is much political and their activism more creative compared to the one in Europe. I wrote in another post about how Egyptian bloggers have truly embraced the web for their activism. The African blogosphere in an overview seems as diverse as everywhere else, but through blogs an authentic message about African life, culture, economy and politics is send out. In the case of Egypt blogs are often the only source for inside stories and information, often neglected by traditional media.