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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Africa & Social Media: Blogging; Activism; and the Future

Africa & Social Media: Blogging; Activism; and the Future

If someone were to be documenting Ghana's young history of its adventure into Social Media, one might refer to the 1 July demonstration, which triggered the hashtag #Occupyflagstaff, as one of the examples of Ghana's foray into activism. Activism, because many months after the so-called "Arab Spring", many have questioned when sub-Saharan Africa would have its own Spring.

But long before there was even any talk of a "printemps africaine", Ghana had begun making moves around Social Media. First it was Penplusbytes, or the ICT Institute of Journalism, in 2001. Seven years later came BloggingGhana – considered the largest association of bloggers writing about Ghana. With the advent of New Media have come opportunities for training and education on New Media, which the latter two organizations have been involved in.

That said, one could be forgiven for thinking that without being associated with these two organizations, survival in New Media is impossible. Far from it! For there remains many individuals blogging, and fully-engaged in New Media through many different initiatives they undertake.

Then there is the case of our media houses, which are taking the New Media bull by the horns and running with it.

Back in 2009, the host of "Africa in Focus" was called to national duty for the 14th GJA Media Awards. Word had it that his blogging activism was what led him to that calling.  Sitting on that committee as a judge for online journalism was indeed a priviledge, but he was disheartened by the fact that subsequent GJA Media awards did not deem Blogging and New Media an important component of Ghana's media landscape.

Fortunately, New Media has managed to move beyond relying on the Ghana Journalist Association. The establishment of organizations like BloggingGhana and Penplusbytes can veritably attest to this fact. But even with their respective successes, what have other African countries been able to do around New Media and Blogging?

In this edition of AIF, we talk to Kenya's erstwhile "King of Facebook", and Brand Ambassador of Safaricomm to find out how that East African country has been able to revolutionise New Media. We also talk to the former Knowledge Management Officer of the UNECA who played a proactive role in ensuring that the rather-prosaic policy of Africa's integration and development is translated into the more exciting and vivacious New Media channel in Facebook.

Even more importantly, we will be using the show to explore the extent to which New Media, especially blogging, is still a good idea, and does it have validity in a space where twitter seems to be king? What does Kenya's King of Facebook think about other forms of New Media, and does his commercial success lend weight to the fact that his template is one that can be replicated elsewhere in Africa?


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