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Social Media Networks, The Voice Of African Youth!!

“The number of cuts in access to Facebook and even the Internet in recent months in sub-Saharan Africa is proof of the importance of social networks in the flow of information,” notes A study conducted on the initiative of CFI, the French public aid agency for media development in the South.

The study on “Digital Citizenship” in Africa has identified 4,000 “cyber activists” in seven countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ghana, Madagascar, Senegal). About forty were interviewed to identify a phenomenon largely outside the official statistics.

The survey reveals that in spite of poor bandwidths, hundreds of communities are talking, collaborating or challenging in the overwhelming majority of Facebook and WhatsApp cases.

“No need for a computer or an email address to open a Facebook account, a phone number is enough,” said one of the authors of the study, Philippe Couve, recalling that a Chinese smartphone is acquired from 50 dollars in Africa.

The access to a lean and mobile version of Facebook is often free in Africa, the company of Mark Zuckerberg having concluded agreements in this direction with telecom operators of some twenty countries, to better establish in this continent at the paces Of Eldorado (less than one third of its 1 billion people have access to the Internet today).

“Facebook is more than a social network, it has become a medium because everyone has access to it,” said Senegalese Sheikh Fall, founder of the pan-African network of cyberactivists africtivistes.org (150 members in 35 countries).

Facebook hosts the groups “Jeunesse consciente” which debates the news in the DR Congo (190,000 members), “Police aide” in Côte d’Ivoire (41,000 members around road accidents, police corruption), or ” Malian Meritocracy “(36,000 members against the piston and for recruitment on merit).

The other new African tamtam is WhatsApp, renamed familiar “Wazzap”. “With Whatsapp, illiterate people in remote villages can share audio files,” says Fall, who was invited to present the CFI study.

Danger of handling

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At the age of 35, Cheikh Fall, now a senior executive in a large Senegalese media group, is the dean of the African blogosphere. Its feats: having mobilized 150 “e-observers” to ensure the regularity of the 2012 presidential election in Senegal (# Sunu2012), drawing inspiration from what the pioneer site Ushahidi in Kenya had made since 2008 .

Since then, a new generation of cyber activists has taken over. Following the example of Beninese Mylène Flicka, 20, the founder of the website IrawoTalents.com promoting young Beninese talent.

This graduate of the National School of Administration and Magistrature of Cotonou also participated in the collection of nearly 500 citizen proposals and the organization of LiveTweets with candidates in the March 2016 presidential election in Benin.

This “hard-core feminist” regrets being one of the few women cyber activists and consoles herself by ensuring that “(her) generation of women is going to make a revolution of + eggs.”

Meanwhile, two dangers lurk African social networks. The manipulation, as shown by the last election campaign in Benin where “WhatsApp and Facebook have become weapons to disinform, launch rumors against candidates,” according to Mylène Flicka.

And censorship. Internet cuts have multiplied at every political crisis this year in Africa (Congo, Chad, Gabon, Ethiopia).

Africtivistes had to exfilter four of its members from their country of origin in 2016. And this network of bloggers is spending a good part of his time to share best practices of encryption and security of exchanges, to avoid piracy and listening Clandestine.

“We are done with the blessed period when the authorities did not understand what we were doing,” sighs Fall.

With AFP

Source: www.voaafrique.com

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Written by How Africa

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