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Social Media in Kenya – Part 3

Below is a link to the presentation I delivered at Pawa 254 in Nairobi on ‘Social Media for Mobilization, Fundraising and Democracy’ along with Mark Kaigwa from Nendo.

I learned a great deal about social media whilst I was in Nairobi. In my first blog post on Kenya I said that “Twitter is only accessible to the middle classes and elites here due to affordability.” I got some criticism about this from a number of Kenyans on Twitter (#KOT). Maybe the wording was a bit clumsy. One of my followers said that Twitter is very affordable

Maybe I should have said that Twitter is not relevant to many people in Kenya and is still mainly the domain of the middle classes and elites. After talking to the people that attended my talk, I would say that this is a reasonably fair statement.

In my recent video ‘Does social media have the power to change the world’ I quote from Pew Research that 48% of the World’s unconnected population think that the internet is not relevant to their lives, due to lack of relevance, cost, infrastructure, local language content, skills training and illiteracy.

I read somewhere the other day that around 75% of all content on social media is in English. I think this statistic will slowly change in the future. In the Q&A after the talk there was a lot of discussion around what the future of social media might look like. I am sure that there will be a lot more mergers and acquisitions by the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter. Mark Kaigwa suggested that there is likely to be more services offered by Chinese social media companies such as Sino Weibo and We Chat. Some of these providers e.g. We Chat already offer a number of services that are not available from their western counterparts. Mark also proffered that there will likely be new solutions designed in the South for the South. I hope this is true.

Social media is making a difference in Kenya, from the Ushahidi platform being used to monitor the elections to Twitter campaigns such as #BabaWhileYouWereAway. One of my favourite examples of social media in Kenya is the story of Chief Kariuki who uses Twitter as a tool for policing, neighbourhood watch and crime reporting activities. In January this year the Chief Kariuki trained 400 other chiefs from the Nyeri County to help curb crime in their area of jurisdiction. I am sure we will see other wonderful initiatives like this in the future.

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