Interesting viewpoint from the Africa Progress Panel…
There are over 12,000 African blogs. At least this is what was revealed in last week’s Pan Africa Media Conference held in Nairobi. This increasing number of African bloggers is testimony to how new media and technology are a force for change in Africa.
And what is to be changed by this force? For starters, Africa’s self-perception and its image across the globe. There was a lot of debate on the western media’s traditional portrayal of Africa that has tended to focus on the negative stories that come from Africa and the African media’s inability to tell better ones.
It is clear that media plays an important role in social development of a country and of a region. Progress goes hand in hand with a strong and free media that helps preserve stability and drive democracy, fight corruption and educate the general public. To fix the image of Africa, the reality is going to need fixing as well. At the summit Paul Kagame said Africans should stop talking and get down to concrete actions. Ironically, many concrete actions that can lead to positive change in Africa are in fact virtual.
The digital revolution in broadband and mobile phones together with the new media such as Twitter, Facebook and Blogs are already evidencing the potential they hold for Africa’s development on many fronts. Safaricom has revolutionized access to finance for millions of Africans enabling them to perform quick and safe transactions through mobile telephony. Ushahidi is a platform used to map out crises with information sent by mobile phones. It has already been adopted for humanitarian emergency situations and in Nairobi, it is being used to submit reports about crime and corruption in the city.
At the conference, Uganda’s Minister for Information and National Guidance, Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko, was asked a question about Uganda’s proposed media regulations and the moderator did not let the Minister take the question and ensured the session stayed on topic. The discussion immediately shifted online as attendees began to tweet about the incident. It is clear that a lot of what Africa has to say about herself from now on is going to be online.