Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
Sparking conversations among citizens is the first step to creating change.
Kenyans woke up to a pleasant surprise one March morning. Graffiti with a political message sprayed on walls in Nairobi’s central business district. And not the terrible kind that is an eye-sore with good intentions. This was “stop-and-stare” graffiti that not only made news in Kenya but overseas as well.
“The thing to remember is, Human beings do not socialize in a completely random way. There’s a tangible reason for us being together, that ties us together. Again, that reason is called the Social Object.” Hugh MacLeod
The Open Government Partnership declaration commits members to support civic participation in addition to making data on government activities open to the public. In Africa, Kenya made history as the first country in sub-Sahara Africa to implement an open data initiative giving citizens unprecedented access to valuable datasets. 40 countries, 5 of them African countries, have since signed up to the OGP and I believe they are at different levels of following through on the spirit of the declaration.
The value of open data to citizens is unquestionable. This year, Kenyan software developers have launched mobile apps that leverage open data to provide services to citizens. They have mostly been in the healthcare and agriculture verticals but services in education and entertainment have begun to emerge. These are very encouraging signals coming out of a country that only a decade or two ago made it almost impossible for citizens to know what the government was doing. These apps may not have been possible without access to the huge amount of data the government holds and is now making available to software developers.
However, we shouldn’t think of only mobile and the web when we talk about leveraging open data. “To turn raw data into ‘edible’ content that citizens can consume and make decisions with” should be the overarching objective for anyone looking to improve citizen participation in governance through open data. This edible bits of content should be easily consumed on the now ubiquitous mobile devices in Africa as well as on old fashioned news print and billboards. Jyri Engestrom refers to social networks as “object-centered sociality” meaning people connect because they have a reason to and that reason is usually an object (in the loose sense of the word). Moving from mere intentions to action may start with little more than an object (physical or otherwise).
I looked up a Nairobi-based digital strategist Mark Kaigwa last month, smart and insightful, he’s become a voice to listen to on East African social media and internet marketing affairs. Mobile quickly became part of the conversation since internet penetration is still relatively low. In fact, telecommunication companies across the continent have identified data subscriptions as the next frontier for growth as voice revenues decline due to increased competition and regulatory intervention.Tweet
Only a measly 22% of companies listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange have a presence on Facebook. That is despite the fact that there are 1 million Kenyans on that platform alone, the majority accessing it via mobile phone. None of the top 3 companies with a strong presence on Facebook have significant presence on retail shelves. One is a telco, the other a media house and the top company on Facebook is an airline. Read the rest of this entry »Tweet
The CIO East Africa ‘Year Ahead’ forum in Nairobi was held yesterday at the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel and local SAP executives, government representatives and local enterpreneur spoke about their predictions for 2011. There were a few surprises and disappointments at the forum. I’ll pick just two.Tweet