For a long while, Africa seemed almost cut off from modern means of communication. However, recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya show what status digital communication has now achieved there. The African-Arab wave of protest is largely based on the use of social tools; these platforms are experiencing a veritable explosion (growth of Facebook in Africa in the past six months: 50.12 per cent). But would this be possible in other parts of Africa as well? It is true that broadband Internet access is available only to an elite in most African countries. But Internet cafés and above all mobile Internet are alternatives available to the normal citizen. The growth rate in the number of African mobile communication users is almost 50 per cent – the biggest rate of growth in the world. Telephony, SMS, games and FM reception are important applications. The active posting of information and the formation of interest groups by means of digital networks open up access to educational opportunities and new market chances.
Is the wave of protest in North Africa also a form of “cyber-revolution” and would it be possible in other regions of the continent as well? What chances for development do digital media offer people in Africa? How can African countries avoid the danger of a “digital divide” within the continent? Can anything be learnt from Africa’s digital development that can be applied to other world regions with an underdeveloped infrastructure?
Claire Ulrich, BOBs jury-member, Editor of Global Voices in french, France
Amira Al Hussaini, BOBs jury-member, Editor of Global Voices for Middle East and North Africa, Bahrain
Ludger Schadomsky, Amharic programme, Deutsche Welle
Presentation: Geraldine de Bastion, newthinking