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[STORIFIED] Social Media: Where is Africa? #SMDayAfrica

Yes! Digital and social media is growing globally, but where is Africa on the social media map?

This was the focus of the first session – “Social Media: Where is Africa?” of the maiden Social Media Day Africa celebration.

If you missed the session, here is a storified version of the TweetChat with Social Media Consultant, Chioma  Chuka; Winner, #SMAA Twitter Handle of Year Award, Jimi Tewe and the African Media Initiative, AMI. The session was moderated by #SMAA’s Startup of the Year Winner, AdForumCo.

ENJOY…Social Media: Where is Africa? #SMDayAfrica

Tayo Elegbede
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#SMDAYAFRICA: HOW AFRICA CELEBRATED 2015 SOCIAL MEDIA DAY

Plugged into the global euphoria of the 6th Social Media Day, which is annually marked on June 30, Africa for the first time celebrated the Social Media Day with continental pulse using the hashtag #SMDayAfrica.

The Social Media Day Africa #SMDayAfrica celebration is a parallel event with the global Social Media Day launched in 2010 by Mashable – a global technology firm. #SMDayAfrica was organized by the Social Media Awards Africa, #SMAA, as an all-day continent-wide virtual event to commemorate the 2015 Social Media Day from an African perspective with global ambience.

The event which featured eight (8) sessions cutting across diverse sectors and countries of the continent had appearances from leading industry experts with a knack for social media such as Maverick Music Producer,  Don Jazzy; HR Expert, Jimi Tewe; Songstress, Simphiwe Dana; Social Commentator, Japheth Omojuwa;  Social Media Denizens, Subomi Plumtre and Chioma Chuka; Representatives of the African Media Initiative, AMI; Social Innovators, Yemi Adamolekun and Seun Onigbinde; as well as winners, finalists and nominees of the maiden Social Media Awards Africa #SMAA from across the continent – Ben Kiruthi, Michael Hlatshwayo, Jimi Tewe, Barefootlaw, The Love Tour,Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Youth and ICT, DHL Africa, Stand to End Rape, Adforumco, KCB Group, Afrinolly, #TheNiteTalk, Raha 2.0, Nigeria Trade Hub; amongst other prominent personalities, social media enthusiasts and users across the continent.

The hashtag #SMDayAfrica which started trending in Nigeria within 2 hours of launch had an all-day penetration across Africa reaching over 30million Twitter users. The celebration also had other events at country-levels with active participations by the online community including #SMAA winners, finalists and nominees in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.

Opening the conversation on the realities of social media usage and practice in Africa, Chioma Chuka posited that although gradual progress is been made on internet penetration across the continent, yet, more needs to be done on digital penetration and local content generation.

Chioma urged Africans to be conscious to their online existence. HR Expert, Jimi Tewe, explained that social media is a growing component of online recruitment which Africans need to come to terms with.

Don Jazzy and Simphiwe Dana, however had a point of difference on whether or not music artistes need to be signed to a record label, considering the growing popularity of digital collaboration – see conversation here.

Sterling Bank Plc, lead sponsor of the Social Media Awards Africa #SMAA, explained that the future of banking on the African continent is social, which, the bank says it is taking the lead in innovating the path and pattern towards the social media boom. The innovative #Onecustomer financial institution which has clearly set the pace in social banking, participated actively and engaged stakeholders for an hour’s session entitled: ‘The Social Media Story: Me and My Bank.’

Relating governance with social media practice in Africa, Seun Onigbinde of BudgIT and Yemi Adamolekun of Enough Is Enough, agreed that although social media tools are viable in advancing governance and accountability processes in Africa, they however cannot in isolation pull through on the desired social needs of the continent, hence, the need for offline and online convergence.

Citing emerging trends such as digital jobs and cloud computing, experts raised the need for Africans to acquire requite digital skills in order to be effectively relevant in the globalized world. They also challenged the African continent to influence and develop itself through local content production and distribution.

Subomi Plumtre challenged African businesses to be more social, leveraging the power of cost-effective social media tools and platforms

Wrapping the all-day TweetChat, was the relationship session tagged: E-Relationship: Love through the web. Gist, Gossip and Tips, anchored by #TheNiteTalk – @LtCaezar, winner of the 2014 #SMAA hashtag of the year award.

As the maiden continental celebration of the world Social Media Day, #SMDayAfrica has succeeded in establishing an African perspective to social media, through robust virtual engagement, education and entertainment.

#SMDayAfrica: Social Media Day Africa

#SMDayAfrica: Social Media Day Africa

In coming years, it is hoped that the Social Media Day celebration in Africa will be bigger and broader, towards enriching continental good.

Conversations and other activities of the #SMDayAfrica celebration can be followed via: @sma_africa on Twitter or through Storify.

ABOUT #SMDayAfrica

The Social Media Day Africa #SMDayAfrica is to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on Africa’s communication and growth, blending the African perspective with global ambience.

This day is marked annually on June 30th in consonance with the global Social Media Day celebration as launched by Mashable, a global tech and social media firm.

ABOUT #SMAA

The Social Media Awards Africa #SMAA is a premier continental initiative poised to recognise and reward excellence, creativity and impact in the use of social media tools and platforms by individuals and organisations.

The Social Media Awards Africa is an initiative of Development Diaries and sponsored by Sterling Bank Plc.

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AFRICA CELEBRATES WORLD SOCIAL MEDIA DAY

June 30 is, annually, commemorated as the World Social Media Day. This day brings to the fore the realities of a growing global community of diverse individuals who are wirelessly wired.

The Social Media Day was launched by an organisation called Mashable, a digital technology company, in 2010 to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication. While every day is essentially a social media day, today marks the sixth celebration.

Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, BBM, Instagram and a host of other social networking platforms are a next to none work or playground for both tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy individuals across the world to explore their lives.

Daily, these networking platforms record a high number of new users, thereby keeping the social media space ever busy with restive timelines.

For sure, the impact of social media, though a relatively — growing space when we focus on the African continent, cannot, and should not be undermined. Social media are growing with Africa and vice-versa.

With over 110 million active social media subscribers and 300 million active Internet users, social media are literally influencing every facet of Africa’s livelihood. This is most notable in ecommerce, online entertainment and civic engagements. They complement the traditional media, thereby forming an outstanding convergence.

The continent also boasts over 700 million mobile phones. Little wonder Africa is referred to as the mobile continent.

For the many benefits enjoyed thus far by the people — and the envisaged ones — the Social Media Africa Initiative, parent initiative to the Social Media Awards Africa #SMAA, is hosting a continent-wide virtual event to, among others, venerate the 2015 Social Media Day from an African perspective.

The Social Media Day has never been celebrated in Africa and an all-day TweetMeet to deliberate on Social Media appreciation, relevance and the African reality (eCommerce, Entertainment & Creative Industry, Governance and Leadership, Banking, amongst others) has been planned. The event will also feature interesting meet-up sessions and historical review of the growth and evolution of social media in Africa.

The TweetMeet is segmented into seven sessions, with each running for an average of two hours. Each session will be moderated by a proficient social media personality while having at least two competent individuals as guests to examine each subject. Questions, interventions and other engagements will not be exclusive to the moderator as members of the public are expected to contribute.

During the TweetMeet, Africa’s best from across the online and offline will engage diverse issues of interest.

 

The growing reality of social media in Africa leaves the continent with no option but to join the global celebration to evaluate the impact of ever-changing communication while looking forward to harnessing the dividends of the process for the benefit of Africa.

For individuals and organisations that have embraced digital technology and social media, they can join in the global celebration from any part of the world.

First, you can join the global trend via the hashtag #SMDay as well as the Africa hashtag – #SMDayAfrica.

Many leading social media organisations like Mashable and Social Media Africa Initiative have free ‘toolkits’ for individuals and organisations to download and use before and during the celebration.

Another key component of the celebration is a promotional campaign by individuals and organisations through their social media accounts and blogs. By doing this, you will be recognised as an authority in the social media space.

Thirdly, you can take and share pictures of yourself and your team members carrying posters with inscriptions such as happy Social Media Day, Social Media Day Africa, We love social media, among other creative lines.

As Africa celebrates the 2015 Social Media Day, some pertinent issues come to mind, which both users and industry experts must make conscious efforts to address. Some of the challenges are digital illiteracy, cyber security and identity theft. The challenges confronting the African social media and, indeed, the cyberspace are enormously daunting.

It is, however, hoped that with the conscious efforts by policy makers, industry experts and social media influencers, some of the challenges will be addressed. Addressing them is critical to unlocking the potential of social media and making them serve the need of the continent.

Wherever you live, you join the conversation cum celebration on Twitter via #SMDayAfrica. Global hashtag is #SMDay.

Happy Social Media Day!

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A little Internet goes a long way in Africa; and the strange case of South Africa vs. Rwanda

Even with a similar level of government policies and “official” commitment to promote ICTs in a country, the outcomes can be wildly divergent.

Using satellite for internet in South Sudan. (Photo: Flickr)
Using satellite for internet in South Sudan. (Photo: Flickr) 

A NEW report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) measuring how economies use opportunities offered by ICT for increased competitiveness and well-being has the majority of African countries at the bottom of the rankings, given high poverty levels and poor infrastructure.

Only Mauritius makes it into the top half of the rankings, at position 45 overall, and the list shows a high correlation between a country’s income and its position on the WEF’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI).

Rich countries have more access to ICT and are able to leverage it effectively, and poor countries, less so. Essentially, ICTs are neither as ubiquitous nor spreading as fast as many believe, and this explains in part the persistence of the digital divide across and within countries.

You might think that that’s the end of the story – too bad if you’re poor.

But digging deeper into the data reveals that it’s more complex than that; a little Internet can go a long way in Africa.

Even with a similar level of government policies and “official” commitment to promote ICTs in a country, the outcomes can be wildly divergent.

Take South Africa and Rwanda as an example. On the overall NRI rankings, they occupy position three and six in Africa respectively, although South Africa is 14 times richer per capita than Rwanda.

When we break down the index into its constituent indicators, some interesting trends emerge.

At government level, the two are the clear leaders pro-ICT policies

Rwanda is first in Africa (and an impressive 19th globally, ahead of even the US, France and South Korea) in how much the regulatory and legal framework facilitates ICT penetration and business development, taking into account factors such as property rights and the rule of law; South Africa comes second.

World Cup 2010 and IT

But South Africa has a much more developed technology infrastructure than Rwanda does, partly because South Africa is richer and so has more money to invest on its fibre optics and networks, and also because it is not landlocked, unlike Rwanda.

The other reason is that South Africa has a much more globalised economy, so there is high external demand for ICT infrastructure from people wanting to invest in the country, and internal demand from those South Africans for whom connecting with the global economy is an integral part of their lives.

In fact, when South Africa won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010, FIFA began to put major pressure on it to upgrade its Internet infrastructure to “Western” standards, so that European audiences would be able to live-stream the games.

With that, a kind of undersea cable arms race began, starting in South Africa and quickly spilling over to the eastern and western coasts of the continent.

That puts South Africa in fifth place in ICT infrastructure in Africa, after Seychelles, Libya, Mauritius and Algeria. Rwanda is 13th.

But when we look at the economic and social impacts of ICT – in other words, its actual outcomes on the ground – the two countries are very  far apart.

South Africa is first in the continent in the economic impact of ICT, mainly because business usage is so high. Because the economy is highly formalised (just 15% of jobs in South Africa are in the informal sector), there’s a big demand for technology to streamline business and make it more efficient.

In fact, nearly a quarter of South Africa’s GDP is drawn from the financial services, where there’s a huge need for automating and monitoring transactions down to the last second.

Transporting bananas to market in Rwanda. Agriculture accounts for 70% of Rwandan exports, 80% of employment, and a third of GDP.(Photo: IFPRI/Gwendolyn Stansbury)

But in Rwanda, the informal sector accounts for 79% of all non-agricultural jobs, and many of them are in small trading and services, therefore the business demand of technology as a critical component of operations (once you have actually opened the business) is lower.

In any case, agriculture accounts for the bulk of employment and exports, and the key inputs in the agricultural sector are land, rainfall and labour – not internet technology as such.

Rwanda beats South Africa

But when it comes to the social impact, the rankings are reversed. Rwanda is now first in Africa in the social impact of technology, measured by improvements in wellbeing, with a particular focus on education, energy consumption, health and the environment.

Rwanda’s high performance on this indicator is boosted by the government’s use of ICT in providing services to citizens, as well as the One-Laptop-Per-Child policy that has seen over 200,000 laptops distributed to pupils in grade school. South Africa is 15th.

In other words, a little Internet in Rwanda goes a long way in improving the wellbeing of citizens, while in South Africa, technology does not have broad social benefits as such, and tends to reward capital.

Countries like Kenya and Senegal display a similar trend of doing more with less – the two are 10th and 19th in their policy and regulatory environment, not particularly good, but not so bad either.

Their infrastructure is fairly good – Kenya at position 9, and Senegal at position 20.

But technology has outsized economic and social impacts. Kenya is second on both counts, and Senegal is fifth on both.

But perhaps the country which is punching the most above its ICT weight, in economic terms at least, is Nigeria.

Nigeria does not feature in Africa’s top 20 rankings with regard to policy, regulation or infrastructure. But it still manages to be eighth in the economic impact of technology.

Source: MailGuardianAfrica

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How Often Should You Post on Facebook?

how-often-post-to-facebook

How often should you post to your business’ Facebook Page?

“It depends.” Hmph. Not the definitive answer most people want.

Truth is, this response isn’t wrong, as frustrating as it is. It does depend — on your followers’ age range, interests, Facebook habits, and so on. But that doesn’t mean we can’t glean some valuable insights on how post frequency affects clickthrough rate.

This frequency discussion becomes all the more important when you look at the current state of competition on the News Feed. When your followers log in to Facebook, they’re getting hit with a ton of content. According to Facebook Engineering Manager Lars Backstrom, 1,500 possible stories from friends and Pages like are filtered per day on an average Facebook user’s News Feed. And most people don’t spend enough time scrolling through to see them all.

So, does that mean posting more frequently will help you reach more people? To help answer this question, we pulled some Facebook data from HubSpot’s 13,500+ customers. Let’s take a quick look at how the number of monthly Facebook posts our customers published impacted clicks per post. This will give you a frame of reference for how your Facebook posts should perform based on how often you’re publishing.

How Does Posting Frequency Affect Clicks Per Post?

The chart below shows how the number of Facebook posts our customers published every month affected the number of indexed clicks on each post. The data is organized by the number of followers a business Page has. When reading this graph, keep in mind that the Y-axis represents clicks per post, not clicks in total.

FB_posts

We found that organizations with more Facebook followers tend to get more interaction with each of their posts. Pages with over 10,000 followers were the only ones for whom posting more often increased the number of clicks per post. For business Pages with 10,001+ followers, clicks per post peaked at between 31 – 60 posts per month. When these companies posted more than 61 times per month, clicks per post didn’t increase significantly from when they were posting 1 – 5 times per month.

For organizations with fewer than 10,000 followers, however, the more often they posted to Facebook, the fewer clicks per post they received. Companies with less than 10,000 followers that post more than 60 times a month receive 60% fewer clicks per post than those companies that post 5 or fewer times a month. There was one, small exception: Pages with between 1 – 200 followers saw a small increase in clicks per post when they posted 61+ times per month compared to the 31 – 60 post bracket. But this is nowhere near the engagement as the 1 – 5 monthly post group.

Takeaways for Marketers

Why does this happen? As the amount of content coming from Pages has increased, so has the competition to appear on consumers’ News Feeds. In other words, Facebook posts coming from Pages are becoming less and less visible in that competitive News Feed. The result? A decline in organic reach that leads to fewer clicks per post.

The biggest takeaway here is this: Don’t overwhelm your customers with content on Facebook, and be selective about what you’re publishing. In other words, spend more timecrafting better Facebook posts, and less time crafting a lot of Facebook posts.

You’ll also want to target your content to a specific audience (and maybe even experiment with Facebook’s targeting options). People are more likely to click on posts that are relevant to their interests and needs. As my colleague Shannon Johnson wrote, “The goal is no longer to spray and pray — it’s to get as much interaction from a single post as possible.”

Source: BlogHubspot

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The Ideal Length For All Your Social Media Posts [Infographic]

Buffer and SumAll put together this informative infographic that reveals the optimal length of social media posts, email subject lines, headlines, podcasts, SlideShare presentations, and more. Take a look, and remember to set yourself some limits. Your viewers will reward you.

social-media-lengtho

Source: HubSpot Blogs

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Battle for African Internet Users Stirs Freedom Fears

(Reuters) – Google and Facebook are at the forefront of a scramble to win over new African Internet users, offering freebies they say give a leg-up to the poor but which critics argue is a plan to lock in customers on a continent of 1 billion people.

Africa’s Internet penetration will reach 50 percent by 2025 and there are expected to be 360 million smartphones on the continent by then, roughly double the number in the United States currently, Mckinsey Consultants data shows.

Africa had 16 percent Internet penetration and 67 million smartphones in 2013.

This growth is attracting interest from Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Wikipedia, which are striking deals with service providers such as Vodacom, MTN, Bharti Airtel and Safaricom to offer users free, or ‘zero-rated’ access to their sites and services.

Facebook, through its Internet.org program, offers a stripped-down version of its social network and some other sites for free in what it says is an exercise to “connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have Internet access”.

Google, in partnership with Kenyan mobile phone firm Safaricom, is rolling out its “free zone” in Kenya, where email and the Internet are available with no data charges, providing users stay within Google apps.

Google has said its “free zone” is aimed at a billion people without the Internet in the developing world.

France’s Orange is offering free access to a pared-down version of Wikipedia in some African countries, while South Africa’s Cell-C gives its customers free use of WhatsApp, a messaging service owned by Facebook.

”DIGITAL PRISON”

Critics, however, say big service providers and Internet companies are luring African users into using their services, giving them opportunities for greater advertising revenue.

“It’s like a drug pusher giving you a small amount and saying: ‘If you want more, you have to come and buy it’,” Africa Internet access specialist Mike Jensen said.

Giving Africans free access to some Internet sites may also stunt innovation and limit the opportunities for African entrepreneurs, making online technology another industry on the continent dominated by big foreign companies.

In Nigeria, 9 percent of Facebook users say they don’t use the Internet, mobile service survey site Geopoll says.

“You are giving people the idea that they are connected to this free open world of the Internet but actually they are being locked up in a corporate digital prison,” Niels ten Oever, head of digital at rights group Article 19, told Reuters.

“Where will the African Mark Zuckerberg come from when they have no chance to compete?”

REGULATION

There are also concerns that regulators in Africa lack the capacity to track how telecoms companies allocate bandwidth. Telecoms firms sometimes limit Internet speeds for some content, known as “throttling”.

Telecoms operators say self-regulating bandwidth usage is important to ensure heavy data users, such as people who download movies, don’t clog up bandwidth for lower Internet users.

The United States passed rules in February to ensure greater “net neutrality”, intended to make sure all content managed by service providers in the U.S. is treated equally on the Internet, despite opposition from telecoms companies.

But African countries don’t have tough rules on “net neutrality”, meaning some services could be given faster access than others, which some activists say could give bigger companies an advantage over new market entrants.

The 24 sub-Saharan African countries tracked by Internet monitoring site WebIndex have “evidence of discrimination” in the allocation of bandwidth and have “no effective law and regulations” on Internet freedom.

“There is little transparency into the Internet operators’ deals so it is hard to see where conflict of interests might be,” Jensen said. “You’re left just having to trust them.”

Despite concerns about limited regulation and an uneven playing field, many experts argue that any improvement in Internet access in Africa should be welcomed, given it could improve education, grow businesses and alleviate poverty.

High speed broadband costs up to 100 percent of average per capita income in Africa, compared to less than 1 percent in developed countries, according to WebIndex.

“Would you tell someone who is hungry: ‘Don’t eat that greasy burger, it’s bad for you. Wait for something healthy?’” said Stephen Song, an Internet researcher for the Network Startup Resource Center

Source: OpenNetAfrica

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Africans Must Stand Up for the Rights We Want in the Digital Era

The continent’s digital future is looking bright and Africans stand to benefit in areas as diverse as business, human rights, journalism the arts and more. Find out why policy-makers and citizens from African countries must make the most of the internet.

The fight for the future of the Web is one that Africans must play an active role in. Internet connectivity is changing the lives of countless African people and providing economic and social benefits, from alleviating poverty and improving health, to enabling Africa’s transition from a resource- to a knowledge-based economy. It is creating new ways to communicate and socialise, new business models and industries, and new ways in which public services, healthcare and education are provided and shared. A recent Deloitte report estimated that if Internet penetration rates in developing countries could be raised to those of developed countries, GDP growth would climb by 72 percent and 140 million new jobs would be created.

The Internet has grown so powerful that many, governments and businesses alike, want to colonise it for their own ends

A fight to secure Africa’s digital future is a fight for the ability of students to access life-changing, free resources; for Africans struggling with injustice and corruption to make their voices heard around the world; for African musicians, designers and film-makers to reach broader international audiences; and for the potential of a tiny African start up to become a billion dollar business. Africa must secure this innovation and the breakthroughs in science, commerce and culture that a free and open Internet offers us.

The Internet has grown so powerful that many, governments and businesses alike, want to colonise it for their own ends. Just as the Windhoek Declaration resulted in World Press Freedom Day, the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms is an opportunity for Africa to take a leading role in advancing communication rights and securing Africa’s growth in the digital era.

The journey ahead for the African Declaration may be long and exhausting, but its purpose is crystal clear: to help policy-makers meet their responsibility to protect human rights online; to secure an open Internet that has a beneficial economic impact for Africa; and to harmonise Internet policies and laws across Africa in an effort to avoid regulation clashes that may cause foreign policy difficulties.

Kids-OLPC-Stars-Foundation

Africa is not alone in this journey. Less than a year ago I stood on stage at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and watched as President Dilma Rousseff signed the Marco Civil da Internet into law: “ladies and gentlemen, the President of the Republic has approved a law that guarantees the rights and duties for the use of internet in the world.” The Marco Civil da Internet provides every Brazilian with strong and enforceable guarantees of free expression, net neutrality, due process, the right to privacy and the right to connect. It is a product of consultation with a wide-range of stakeholders spanning nearly a decade and it carries with it the spirit, hope and belief of scores of campaigners across Brazil and the rest of the world.

It is that same sense of spirit, hope and belief that has spurred the development of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms. In September 2013, a group of Africans huddled together at the Multimedia University of Nairobi in Kenya. Their discussion did not focus on the recent Westgate bomb attacks; instead they discussed rights and freedoms online. Their collective desire was to ensure Internet rights and freedoms and they began developing the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms. Larger meetings followed and the expertise of more than twenty civil society groups working in Africa were drawn upon. The group developed a rough outline for the African Declaration and nominated a drafting committee, led by Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda. The draft was developed by the committee through an interactive feedback and consultation process, with around 40 submissions from a range of stakeholder groups.

The goal for the next year is to secure political support for the African Declaration.

The Declaration builds on well-established African human rights documents, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press of 1991, the African Charter on Broadcasting of 2001, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of 2002, and the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration of 2011. The principles outlined in the Declaration are openness, access and affordability, freedom of expression, right to information, freedom of assembly and association, cultural and linguistic diversity, right to development, privacy, security, rights for marginalised groups, right to due process, and the right to a democratic Internet governance framework.

The goal for the next year is to secure political support for the African Declaration. We will be collecting endorsements and further comments on the text. We want to include as many African people as possible with us on on this journey and we have already started to see a growing movement around the Declaration.

UNESCO

The World Wide Web Foundation, through our Web We Want campaign, is committed to the Declaration. The Declaration has journeyed to the third Africa Internet Governance Forum in Abuja, Nigeria; to the Alliance for Affordable Internet national coalition workshops in Nigeria; and to the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. It has also been a part of the global Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul, Turkey; to Highway Africa in Grahamstown, South Africa; to the Web We Want Festival at the Southbank Centre in London, England; and to the African Union ICT Ministerial meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. Where it journeys next is down to the will of Africans.

The biggest threat to the Web today is not actually from companies or governments. Instead, the biggest threat is us simply taking it all for granted. That is why I am asking people across Africa to endorse the Declaration, for African Union Member states to support the Declaration when it is presented, and for the ACHP to pass a resolution endorsing the Declaration. It will require the efforts of millions of Africans — people like you and me — to see this journey through to the end. I am here and ready. Where are you?

Source: OpenNetAfrica

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2 billion people in emerging developing countries priced out of internet

More than two billion people in emerging and developing countries worldwide cannot access the internet due to high costs of connectivity, new research by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has found.

According to A4AI’s annual Affordability Report, released today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, across 51 developing countries surveyed for the report, the average cost of broadband internet for an individual is 40 per cent of their monthly income – much higher than the 5 per cent target set out by the UN Broadband Commission.

The average cost of mobile connectivity is lower, although still double the target threshold, at 10 per cent of an individual’s monthly income.

Based on these figures, A4AI finds that over two billion people worldwide are priced out of internet connectivity

“In the 21st century, inability to pay should not deny anyone access to the Internet. Universal broadband can easily become a reality if leaders commit to ending anti-competitive policies that keep prices artificially high, prioritising more well-planned infrastructure investment, and expanding public access programmes to ensure the poorest are not left behind,” said A4AI executive director Sonia Jorge.

According to the Affordability Report, women and rural populations face the highest barriers to internet access; income disparities and social norms affecting the former in particular, with infrastructural challenges added for the latter group. These challenges increase the cost of internet access for these groups, and serve to further marginalise and exclude them from connectivity.

The research highlights five points for action, which when developed concurrently will serve as a roadmap to address the internet affordability issues faced by developing countries. First, A4AI recommends the development of an effective National Broadband Plan; followed by the creation an environment which promotes enhanced competition. Strategies which permit efficient spectrum allocation are named as the third prerequisite; while the fourth recommendation is to put in place models designed to encourage or mandate infrastructure sharing. Finally, A4AI advocates widespread public access through libraries, schools, and other community venues.

“Unnecessarily high prices, in tandem with a failure to expand public access, are still conspiring to bar billions from accessing the life changing potential of the Web. Those most in need of upliftment — women, rural populations and those living in poverty — are hit the hardest,” Jorge said.

“The good news is that a clear roadmap to progress has emerged. Global experience has delivered a set of policies and principles which — when implemented in an integrated fashion and combined with strong leadership — can deliver real change, fast. We urge policy makers in all countries to follow these recommendations.”

Latin America accounts for six of the top 10 affordability rankings, with the report saying the region leads the way in policy reforms aimed at lowering connectivity costs.

Among developing countries – defined by the World Bank as low to lower-middle income countries – the top five ranked countries for internet affordability were Rwanda, Nigeria, Morocco, Uganda and Kenya – although none of these came into the global top 10.

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10 Great Ways the Internet Is Empowering Women Around the World

This year, International Women’s Day will focus on the empowerment of women, highlighting the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was signed 20 years ago by 189 governments to establish an agenda for realizing women’s rights. The celebration of this historic milestone gives us a good reason to reflect on advances in women’s rights around the world, and to examine the Internet’s role in this effort.

To this end, drawing from our Community Grants archives, our global membership and other organizations, the Internet Society has assembled below a list of innovative and interesting ways that the Internet and technology are empowering women (and girls) far and wide. Some initiatives we found are global, while others are local, but all are worthy of recognition because they are empowering women in parts of the world where women’s rights are at risk.

These initiatives are breaking down barriers and building bridges that support greater education, better health, career advancement, and stronger community. They are fostering greater reach through local-language content that is sensitive to regional education levels and cultural conventions. They are creating new channels of opportunity, and using data to ensure that gender equality is a key beneficiary of technological advances.

Even so, this list is far from complete. Find out more about other organizations and initiatives that are using technology to empower women, and tell us about any we’re missing….we want to know about every initiative that is using the Internet to do big things in the lives of women everywhere!

1. The Amakomaya Project (Nepal)

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Copyright The Amakomaya Project

The Amakomaya Project (or Mother’s Love) was started to provide women in rural Nepali villages with life saving digital content in their own local language via the Internet. The program brings educational materials to pregnant women who would have no access to it otherwise, with information about pregnancy and pre-natal care to reduce the region’s high maternal mortality and neo-natal death rates. With the region’s high mobile penetration, the program has expanded with a mobile platform, and it also connects rural health workers with urban based hospital doctors. Find out more about Amakomaya or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Samasource (Global)

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Copyright Samasource

Billed as a “bridge to the global talent pool,” this non-profit gives computer-based data projects to women and youth in areas all over the world where “technology is unfamiliar and traditional gender roles may prevent women from pursuing careers.” Since its founding in 2008, Samasource, which pays its workers a living wage, has built the number of women it has trained and employs to over 3,000 through data projects with companies including Getty Images, DropBox, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor in countries such as Haiti, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and India. Learn more about working with Samasource or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

3. Hamara Internet (Pakistan)

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Copyright Hamara Internet

Hamara Internet is a campaign by the Digital Rights Foundation that promotes a secure digital environment for women and protects their online and offline freedom of expression. Through workshops, training and research, the campaign is empowering Pakistani women to connect with online communities via social media channels, to learn how to increase their online security, and to combat cyber-violence, among other things. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.

4. W2E2 (India)

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Copyright W2E2

Women for Empowerment and Entrepreneurship (W2E2) provides digital tools, Internet connectivity and digital literacy skills training to help rural women in India set up social and/or entrepreneurial micro-enterprises. Many of these women are now using the Internet for their own projects in fields like sustainable agriculture and rural health. Some are setting up their own kiosks and shops to provide online services to the local community, while others have taken up work as digital literacy trainers in their own local communities. Learn more about W2E2.

5. International Girls in ICT Day (Global)

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Copyright International Telecommunication Union

An initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Girls in ICT Day aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the field of ICT, Information and Communications Technology. Celebrated on the 4th Thursday in April every year, the main goal is to make girls and young women aware of the vast possibilities offered by ICTs and give them the confidence to pursue ICT studies and careers. To date, over 111,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 3,500 Girls in ICT Day events held in 140 countries worldwide. ITU has also developed Girls in ICT Portal, with a database of programs and other informative and inspirational materials to help girls and young women to enter the ICT sector. ITU Girls in ICT Portal can be foundhere.

6. Tujiunge (Democratic Republic of Congo)

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Copyright Tujiunge

Tujiunge is a computer resource center for women coping with violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence against women is rampant due to ongoing political instability and armed groups based in the region. The center is designed to give women access to information, education and support services via the Internet to help them cope with violent situations in the Uvira community. More information is available here.

7. Ayni Bolivia (Bolivia)

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Copyright Ayni Bolivia

Ayni Bolivia provides training for underserved young women interested in computer maintenance and security on the Internet. The classes, which include learning how to assemble computers and load Linux and Windows operating systems, provide more than technical training – they help girls become more confident. One course participant noted that her new skills have enabled her to help her Dad repair computers – helping generate income for her family and giving her an opportunity to work with her father. Learn more about Ayni Bolivia and watch the girls at work here.

8. Afchix (Africa)

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Copyright Afchix

Afchix is designed to encourage girls and young women in Africa to take up careers in tech. It provides mentoring, training and support for young women interested in the Internet engineering and computing fields so they will be equipped to build next generation IP infrastructures. Afchix activities include organizing events that draw hundreds of girls and young women to share experiences and learn what they can achieve by devoting themselves to the study of computer science and information technology.

9. Respect Girls on the Net (Sri Lanka)

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Copyright Paul Prescott/Shutterstock

Cyber-harassment is a growing phenomenon in every part of the world, but can pose an even greater threat in regions where there are fewer regional resources to educate people on its consequences. Respect Girls on the Net (RGNET) is an initiative byYouth Empowerment Society (YES) founded by Shilpa Sayura e Sri Lanka Project to create youth awareness and dialogue on the problems faced by girls on the internet. RGNET offers local-language content that builds awareness of the issue, advocates for and trains kids in “safe and respectful online discourse,” and provides resources and guidance to victims. Find them on Facebook.

10. Take Back the Tech! (Global)

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Copyright Take Back the Tech!

As technology advances, women and girls have increasingly become targets of cyber-stalking and digital voyeurism, harassment, blackmail and threats. Take Back the Tech!, initiated by the Association for Progressive Communications’ Women’s Rights Programme, raises awareness, builds online equality and preserves digital freedom of expression for women and girls. For 16 days between Nov. 25 and Dec. 10, Take Back the Tech! issues a call to action: use every technology platform to shine a spotlight on the problem, create solidarity, and teach women how to combat it. Since it launched in 2006, the campaign has been translated into numerous languages and adopted by groups from Bangladesh to Bosnia and beyond. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: Huffingtonpost

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