Thursday, February 20, 2014

Social Media Will Improve Africa’s Connectivity And Citizens Engagement, Experts Say #SMWLagos #SMW14

As Africa’s most populous country hosts the second edition of social media week on the continent, experts say social media has become a must-use for all Africans. Social media is a tool that will improve Africa’s connectivity and foster a sustained level of citizens engagement, they say.

The report:

Many people across Africa have gathered for the second edition of Social Media Week in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Considered one of the biggest and fastest growing economy in Africa, with a population of 170 million people, Nigeria currently has about 58 million Internet users resulting to an increase in social media usage in the oil rich country.
Exploring the potentials of this social media penetration in the country, the Chairman of social media week Lagos, Obi Asika, says the week-long event has created an avenue for Africans across the continent to converge online and offline to share knowledge and ideas for collaboration.

MR. Obi Asika:
“Our theme this year, which is a connected Africa, is about bringing the 55 African countries together through Social Media Week Lagos. This is definitely the largest media and technology conference on the African continent. It is definitely a conference that has leadership on the important issues that are defining the future.”
Africans are much more connected than ever. While the world records about 37 per cent Internet penetration, Africa with about 15 percent penetration has an estimated 167 million Internet users on the continent. The growing Internet access is increasing the knowledge Africans have about one another. Asika, who is also the founder of Storm 360, a record company based in Lagos, says social media while connecting Africans can serve as an enabler for intra-African trade and commerce.

MR. Obi Asika:
“The reason why for example Nigerian music and Nollywood are so powerful across the continent is primarily social media. Traditional broadcast platforms have of course pushed the agenda but then you find out that it’s the new media platform such as Youtube and the conversations driven around those topics that are already connecting all of us. Nigerians and Africans are much more interconnected than they ever were. I think Africans know a lot more about each other than they did before. And even though Intra-African trade is still minutiae, it can become exponential in terms of growth.”
In Nigeria, social media has already taken a life of its own with an increased audience. Users of different social networks such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter use the platforms to discuss issues such as relationships, education, agriculture and governance. Tosin Ajibade, an online marketer says there is need to spread usage across sectors, without prioritizing one over another.

Miss Tosin Ajibade:
“It is necessary [we] use social media in all sectors.”
However, Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative of Nigeria says Nigerians need to move from the position of mere consumption to a more impacting usage.

Mr. Gbenga Sesan:
“Nigerians have never had problem with consumption of anything. But that is where I think the problem is because we consume all the time. And what I will like to see a lot more of is for us to put it to use it in various areas. One of the things I will like to see is an average young Nigerian who is unemployed to use social media to connect with a potential employer. An average student in secondary school to use that platform to connect with a mentor. And an average politician to use that to connect with critics so he can get or she can get good feedback.”
As social media penetration continues to gain ground, its relevance is questioned on the continent. In 2013, there was [an] uproar over clamors for its regulation in Nigeria. Sesan says although no bill has been passed to censor social media in the country, his organization is serving as watchdog on ICT policy engagement.

Mr. Gbenga Sesan:
“Right now, we are looking at every bill in the National Assembly and by March we are releasing a report on every bill that has to do with ICT and Internet freedom in Nigeria. And we are analyzing them to look at provisions they’ve made and which ones out there halt Internet freedom. And then we’ll put it out there and hopefully citizens engage with them.”
Asika says that social media should not be regulated.

MR. Obi Asika:
“I think anybody who does that is just wasting their time. For government and for civil society, you do have to monitor, you do have to check about invasion of privacy, security and all these other sorts of issues. But that doesn’t mean we have to approach this from a repressive side”
As the technology conference continues into the week, Asika urges Nigerians and Africans to embrace the enormous potential it brings. Social media week, which is organized in about 26 cities globally, is not limited to social media, he says.

MR. Obi Asika:
“Social Media Week is not actually about social media. It is about life and how social media and technology impacts life. Even if you don’t use FaceBook and Twitter, you are impacted by them everyday.”
As Africans improve travel, access and interconnectivity with social media, the continent will see its value, says Asika.


1 comment:

Waliy Allah Shafiq Ganem said...

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