A new scramble for Africa is currently in the works; hopefully this time around it’ll be more promising and equitable. Mo Ibrahim set a precedence that has seen an enormous surge in mobile communication technology in Africa. This in turn propelled a shift and paved way for the digital revolution in Africa given that it literally was a ‘Dark Continent’ prior to the snaking of under sea fibre optic cables around the continent.

Today Africa is one of the biggest markets for Nokia, Huawei and the likes. Financial services are literally being redefined and reconfigured in certain African states. More and more people are getting connected to the internet and their first point of contacts is the mobile phone. Mobile web statistics have witnessed explosive growth in Africa.

Suddenly about a hundred million people have been splashed on to the internet, with a potential of several hundred million more. Facebook and You Tube hits are splurging across Africa. What is lacking though is a platform for the African narrative. Some of these platforms do exist in principle but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The other problem is most of the platforms tend to be aligned towards distinct cultural and socio-political structures mainly spanning through North Africa – Maghreb, West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. There is yet to be a definitive platform that voices the African narrative.

The social media catalysed Jasmine and Tahrir revolutions despite categorically occurring north of the Sahara have reoriented the focus of digital media on Africa as a whole. A continent rife with authoritarianism now thrives on the notion of citizen empowerment being around the corner. It has also cemented a phenomenal case for digital platforms tweaked with an African narrative not only because of the current conditions but business cases spewing to the bottom of the pyramid make more sense than ever before.

So international broadcasters currently operating in Africa are stepping up their game, executing and exploring transmedia opportunities. Local and indigenous media houses most of them incumbents are all seeking to strike some ‘Al Jazeera’ moments by venturing out to social media and dabbling with citizen journalism here and there. Well, truth be told, success in digital media requires much more than just the profile page here and the status update there. Business and operational models have to encompass social and digital factors to their core. So on one hand information is democratised on the other traditional media models and journalism is under threat, for with digital media everyone is a journalist and entities that recognise this reality might just strike gold.


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The Digital Scramble for Africa



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