For folks working on service delivery, advocacy and evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa, the explosive growth of mobile phones and SMS (text-) based tools has already impacted how they (and we at APEP) think about our work. But now comes evidence from the folks at Trade Fact of the Week about the rapid growth of internet access, opening up new possibilities for African analogues to the best – and worst – of e-advocacy practices as well as e-commerce.
Social Media for Social Good
A recent Aspen Institute panel discussion focused on the power of social media for and against democracy. According to former US State Department senior innovation advisor Alec Ross, social media’s effect on diplomacy can be summed up in three parts: accelerate movements; enrich information environments; and create leaderless movements. Many organizations are now looking to social media for evidence of changes in the “conversation” around a particular issue. It is the task of evaluators, like your friendly neighborhood APEP colleagues, to investigate whether this is the case – how, for whom, and to what end.
In a recent post, the bloggers at ONE list a few takeaways from the first day of this week’s US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC. One of these likely sounds very familiar: western media outlets continue having trouble presenting African issues in a nuanced way. Even the images often used to accompany coverage of the continent accentuate the negative at the expense of everything else. Advocates trying to influence this media environment would do well to hold publications accountable for the quality of their reporting.