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WHY IT IS A PERILIOUS TIME TO ASSUME MOBILE IN AFRICA

Omath Victor

A mobile photo journalist at a past function

According to Hootsuite 2018 digital report, there are 4.021 billion internet users in Africa, out of this, 3.196 billion are active social media users. This is an increase of 20% and 12% respectively from 2017. Eastern African has a 27% internet penetration, needless to say Kenya leading in the number of internet users.

Globally, Kenya stands at position 17 in internet penetration with 86%. On top of the chat is United Arab Emirates with a 99% penetration. Egypt, Nigeria ties at 50% penetration followed by Ghana at 49 %.

As at January 2018, Kenya was topping the world of web traffic in sharing information at 86 % Google, Facebook, YouTube being among the most visited platforms.

In terms of digital optimism (number of population that believes that new technology offer more opportunity than risks), Kenya ranks at number 6 with a 72%.

An average Kenyan spends 3 hours 56 minutes daily accessing internet. These in other words are mobile journalists, telling their stories across social media platforms through; Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ through short videos, pictures, texts all done through mobile.

This data suggests that it’s a perilous time to ignore the power of mobile in Kenya and Africa in general. With an average population of over 40 million, 15% of Kenyans are active social media users spending an average time of 2 hours 54 minutes.

Social media therefore acts as a social influence tool. A tool for change where people get the power to voice their concerns, pass information, break news among other activities.

In the recent tragic terror attack at Dusit Hotel, 14 Riverside drive, the first call of action came through Twitter.

A victim of the fateful day Ronald Ng’eno tweeted at 3:30 pm motioning the world of the attack.

A Facebook user Douglas Barasa who was also at the fateful area posted on Facebook “Guys were under attack, pray for me”. What followed was a 14 hour of information sharing through twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp among other platforms. Twitter users wouldn’t keep their phones away till the next day after the president’s speech, an assurance that all was well and in many cases as the trend goes, mainstream media continue to lose power and influence. Mobile continue to break news and impact greatly o information sharing. As a matter of fact, Television and Newspapers no longer break news. Mobile do.

In the late hours of that day, New York Times would feel the public wrath for posting graphic images of the fateful attack and as a result, Google suspended their photo account an indication that power belongs to mobile phone users. Mobile can control mainstream media.

On 25 January 2011 hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, Egypt and planted the seeds of unrest which, days later, finally unseated the incumbent president, Hosni Mubarak, after 30 years of power. A year later, there were mass demonstrations in Tunisia, not long after, protests in Cairo would trigger waves of change across Northern Africa states and Middles East in what became known as the Arab Spring.

But while the nature of each pro-democracy uprising, and their ultimate success, varied from country to country, they had one defining component; social media and social media in Africa is almost entirely driven by mobile phones.

At the heart of journalism today, mobile phones plays a major role. Not only in recording audios but also writing stories, recording short videos, editing both text and videos through video editing suites such as KineMaster, OpenCamera and even shooting full movies.

This is the new generation of storytelling, that’s why we at Mobile Journalism Africa believe that our stories are best told by us. It only us who can tell our stories effectively, in our own voices just like in Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya and other African nations.

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