20 September 2012

Africa: Power to the Tweeple!

press release

That was Rachel Jones rallying cry when discussing social media's growing ability to give Africans a voice. Jones, a Knight Foundation health journalism fellow and media consultant, was illustrating how Kenya's social media practitioners and government were making Kenya a role model for other African nations. Speaking to current and aspiring journalists from throughout Africa at the 16th Highway Africa Conference in Grahamstown, Jones explained how Kenyans increasingly used social media to address their concerns about Kenya's political, social, economic and health challenges. In so doing, Kenya's twitterati made the Kenyan government take notice and begin tailoring its products to cater to Kenya's social media-savvy audience.

Jones considered this year's Highway Africa theme-Africa Rising: How the Media Frame the Continent's Geopolitics, Trade and Economic Growth-to be timely, saying, "The conference...addresses the main challenges in producing quality journalism on the continent: providing education and training, addressing repressive policies, fostering the slowly evolving social media uptake and guaranteeing access to resources."

Highway Africa is a partnership between Rhodes University's School of Journalism and Media Studies and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). With the support of numerous governmental and private sponsors, Highway Africa has been during its 16 years at the forefront of Africa's debates on journalism and new media. With more than 400 journalists and media consultants attending this year, Highway Africa is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the continent.

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