In a piece posted on South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, writer and advertising executive Rick de Kock argues that there’s a digital revolution happening across Africa – even though technology and social media hit Africa much later than the developed world.
Over the past decade, according to De Kock, cell phone use has increased by 2,357 per cent and social networking by 21,000 per cent. De Kock says that this new, tech-savy generation of Africans are using this newfound access to better compete in the world’s markets.
He also argues that these technologies are transforming African politics in ways both subtle and profound. He explains how Nigerians used a cellphone app called ReVoDa to create an informal army of election monitors who observed polling places and uploaded their observations to a central server. And the winner of the election, Goodluck Jonathan, used Facebook and Twitter to get his supporters to the polls.
Readers had strong reactions to the post. Some criticized De Kock’s optimism: “Do not forget how the Internet and cellphone explosion has enabled countries like Nigeria to enhance their “scam capabilities.” Not everything is as rosy as you make it out to be.”
But others agreed. One reader wrote that technology also sparks local innovation in rural areas, like folks who set up solar power panels and charge a small fee to charge their neighbors’ phones.