11 November 2011 11 Comments

African Social Media use: Time to brace up

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Social media use in Africa or elsewhere is no longer a fad but a revolution. Those who are still hoping it will fade away must wake up to the reality. In most developing nations-African countries inclusive, the snail- speed approach to the use of social media is becoming a great concern.Social-media-use-in-Africa-Africa-and-Social-media-use-Social-media-benefit-to-africa-Social-media-use-In-Nigeria-Social-media-professional-in-Africa-Social-media-professional-In-Nigeria

While the advanced nations have gone ahead to embrace the use of social media tools-at both private and public institutions, one wonders why it is taking us such a long time to adjust to reality. one should not be surprised as chief of Army staff of one of the African frontline countries has confessed his helplessness and  lack of physical security tools in fighting terrorism around the country.

Elsewhere the CIA is already monitoring moods, tweets, facebook updates etc to gauge possible threat to freedom and outbreak of potential terrorism. In another clime, CBI India has joined Facebook in order to engage and seek support of the public in some high profile cases. CBI by this act recognizes some civilians will not talk until they are engaged. The above are classical examples of public institution use of social media to enhance effectiveness. In Africa, if some of these relevant Agencies decide to set up, many civilians may not be willing to supply good leads. It is a common knowledge how member of Police Force exposed and endangered lives of people who volunteered to give vital information. That line of discussion is not covered under the purpose of this platform; hence need to let the sleeping dog lies.

With corporate use, corporate organizations in Western countries are now going beyond the use. They are seeking clarification in court with regards to who owns employee’s contact on Linkedin. I have followed with interest cases where certain employers have asked employees to disconnect their relationships with their Linked contacts as soon as they leave their establishments. These employers believe they should not do business with people they know while working with their establishment.  This is an interesting time to be alive. I am often thinking, when will African countries take full advantage of social media tools? My conclusion is that there are certain foundations to be laid and here are my thoughts:

Acknowledge: African countries need to forget pretence. It is time to acknowledge values in social media and plan towards better ways of annexing its full benefits

System restructuring: there is need for urgent system restricting where technology advancement becomes a priority. Some undergraduate students in a private university in India are already launching satellites into the space. It is time to think digital. Many countries in Africa still depend on other nations outside Africa to help them launch a satellite.

Need for policy and strategy: nothing works without strong, actionable policy and strategy. It is high time we bring experts together for a serious discussion on way forward. African must back this up with a strong will to act fast on recommendations.

Invest in online/Social Media tools: in addition to the above, African Governments must make investment in this area a priority. No lip service will do.

Take action: While we do not advocate a massive action at the beginning, it is wisdom to start acting on decisions made. Waiting for the right time when everything will be in place is dangerous. The initial mandate of CIA according to the source quoted above is ‘the program was established in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission with the initial mandate to focus on counterterrorism and counter proliferation’. But with time, it can now monitor moods, tweets, facebook updates in china, Pakistan, Egypt etc. There is wisdom in starting with what you have and from there move upward.

What do you think? Share your opinion

Image credit: fotosearch.com

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