Social media for Africa development: reality or utopia?
Let’us ask the question differently: what can social networks bring to Africa? The news of social networks in recent years, allows us to address this topic. Maybe I’m more interested in the issue because I’m coming from Benin in West Africa. I’m studying Master of Journalism and in at the end, social networks have the advantage of changing all the world
We remember : february 2011, an African dictatorships fell. That of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. This is the sequence of events that are initiated from Tunisia. Behind these revolutions, unpredictable and unexpected tool: social networks. If the underdevelopment of Africa has long been maintained by dictatorial powers, their downfall should allow the development of Africa with massive participation of people in the conduct of their destiny. Facebook Twitter You Tube and Hi5 are widely used. They induce mutations in many areas (1).
In the Maghreb, Facebook and Twitter have been a good levers of the « le printemps arabe. The flow of information brings a profound change in public life and therefore in development. Now, people are actively involved in public debate, give their views and influence policy decisions. A few years ago, it was only a dream. The social network, twitter down the barrier between governments and peoples in Africa: who wants to govern today, will benefit communicate. Be present and active on social networks. The national press agencies, and government presses are not the only ones privileged. Across the continent, the heads of state are followed in their activities. Their press services included that they should not remain outside the boom of social networks. Here, the top 15 in the number of messages sent by the African leaders on Twitter in June 2012 (2).
With an estimated population of just over a billion people, Africa now has 500 million mobile subscribers. Initially, it was just a luxury for many Africans. The mobile phone was used to communicate with family and friends. For their part, cyber-café, not developed enough to offer a big internet access. Now social networks including Facebook and twitter are available on mobile. In 2011, Africa had already 140 million users
According to the results of a recent study by the British communications company Portland, here is the map of African twitter users. It covers 11.5 million tweets with messages of 140 characters. Nearly 50% come from South Africa. It is interesting to know that even in countries with poor access to social networks grows rapidly.
– Facebook has more than 17 million subscribers in Africa, against 10 million in 2009. The number of subscriptions is growng increased. Unlike the situation in other continents. This is what facebook has launched this year, several versions in some major African languages including Swahili, Hausa and Zulu, Facebook announced that it would provide access to mobile users in many countries in Africa.(3)
– Google announced that it will launch a new service called Baraza. It allow users to interact by asking African and answering questions of local or regional interest.
– The local social networks themselves also develop. These are: Arigator South Africa, Ushahidi in Kenya, Linkedin and Viadeo to Magrheb in sub-sahérienne like Senegal, Benin…
The advent of democracy in the 90s had raised great hopes. Today, the development dream is not achieved even though there has been progress. Similarly, the growth experienced by social networks for two years must be accompanied in order to contribute effectively to the development of the continent. Countries should develop infrastructure to facilitate access to the internet. Fight against illiteracy. In Africa, social networks are also an effective tool of propaganda used by the government. Care should be taken to the plurality of opinions on social platforms.
If social networks continue to grow effectively, all vital sectors in africa will gain importance.