AFRICA AND SOCIAL MEDIA: BLOGGING; ACTIVISM; AND THE FUTURE
by Pamela Ofori-Boateng, AIF News Reporter
According to Africa Renewal Online, Africans are coupling their already extensive use of cellphones with a more recent and massive interest in social media. Africans are leading what may be the next global trend:a major shift to mobile internet use,with social media as its main drivers.
Studies suggest that when Africans go online they spend most of their time on social media platforms like Facebook; twitter; YouTube and others.
Social media platforms were primarily used to connect with family and friends, but the pattern has changed lately. Social media has now become a major platform for activism in Africa taking into consideration the abduction of over 200 girls in Nigeria by the militant group Boko Haram. Most civil society organisations and individuals launched social media campaigns to help in “bringing the girls back” to where they belong.
Another recent example is the “Occupy Flagstaff House”, which was organised in Accra, Ghana’s capital, on July 1, 2014 with the aim of asking government to solve corruption; infrastructural decay; and worsening economy -- among other things. Social media tool, Facebook, was the main tool used to mobilise the masses for the demonstration.
People in Africa also use blogging as a social media platform to air their views on topics they find interesting or topics they want to educate people about.
On the latest edition of “Africa in Focus”,E.K.Bensah hosted Kwame Ahiabenu of Penplusbytes and Edward Tagoe of Blogging Ghana on the topic,”Africa and Social Media:Blogging :Activism and the future”
Mr. Edward Tagoe stated that every country needs an association of bloggers because there is a craving for fresh information and so bloggers will provide a lot more information than what we have in the mainstream media. He did not mince words to say that the rate of blogging is decreasing because Twitter as a social media platform has become easy to use and it is more interactive.
He mentioned plagiarism and libel as the main challenge confronted by bloggers and further asked bloggers to cross check their write ups and acknowledge any source of information they use on their blogs.
Mr. Kwame Ahiabenu intimated that Ghana now has quite a number of citizen journalists who aid in the dissemination of information through facebook; twitter and whatsapp and that the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA)should include them(Citizen journalists) when structuring the categories of the annual journalism awards.
Mr. Tagoe reiterated that since almost all media houses are using social media platforms like facebook,twitter,whatsapp among others to disseminate information,it will be a good idea if the association introduces categories of awards for online news.
Stephen Musyoka,who won King of Facebook 2010 in Kenya also contributed to the show on phone by painting a picture of Kenya’s vibrancy on the social media ladder in Africa. He said that WhatsApp is a very important tool for business because one can easily send commercials and pictures of their products to a contact list.
Mr. Musyoka mentioned that Kenya’s high social media presence is as a result of high and fast internet connectivity.
He highlighted on some of the negative aspects of social media like hacking. He gave an example in Kenya where the account of one government official was hacked into and the need for governments to regulate the usage of social media in Africa.
Africa is indeed progressing when it comes to the use of social media but i believe we can do more with this powerful tool to a stage where criminals can be caught through social media just like a news story i watched on Al jazeera within this week where a thief who stole a lady’s earring worth 300 dollars was caught within 24 hours just because someone took a video of him whilst he was stealing and uploaded it on facebook. Within minutes the videos went viral and it led to the identification of the thief.