Monday, 6 February 2012

How DRC tweets! And why.

Written by Gael Masengi
Internet has played a bigger role during the “Arab Spring” eventually toppling long time dictators in North Africa; ordinary citizens took to the streets to protest against the corrupted oppressive regime in their countries and to demand justice. With state controlled media and many pro government biased TV and radio stations it became difficult for protesters to show to the world what really was happening, realising what they had was more powerful than any traditional media tool they could think of, young people armed with smart phones and small cameras across the Arab world filmed the events as was unfolding around them and supplying international channels with footage and pictures from the scene.  
While social networks in developed world are widely used for social conversation and interacting with friends and family, in Africa platforms like Facebook and Twitter specifically are becoming the main tools for frustrated people ‘to get together’ and organise anti-regime marches and demonstrations but unlike  Tunisia or Egypt, war torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the very under-developed in the world, the country ranks last in the UN development index TV and radio remain the prime reliable sources of information, internet penetration rate is about 1% (696,520 internet users). The outcome of November polls could have been a start point of sort an “Occupy DRCongo” movement but the country’s lack of development has made it difficult for oppressed people of Congo to publicised their cause and tragedy to the entire world, twenty six people were killed by the supposedly elected president Joseph Kabila’s personal army under the watchful eyes of international journalists during the opposition rally last year and yet the “International Community” remain silence, what will it take for the will of Congolese people to be respected?
Despite hunger, poverty and oppression Congolese people are catching up slowly but surely with other African countries by turning to Twitter for political and sports news.
The research “How Africa tweets” conducted by Portland Communication and Tweetminster showed that Congolese made two thousands and four hundreds tweets in the last three months of 2011, less many than their Rwandan neighbours, raking them eightieth followed by Gabon and Ghana ninetieth and twentieth respectively among top 20 in Africa. The continent biggest economy, South Africa generated two times more tweets with over 5millions than Kenya which came in second place with 2.48millions followed by Nigeria (1.67mil), Egypt (1.21mil) and Morocco (0.75mil).
Data released show that 57% of Tweets from Africa are sent from mobile devices, 60% of the continent’s most active tweeters are aged 20-29 years old. Twitter is becoming an important source of information in Africa with 68% of those polled said that they use Twitter to monitor news while 22% use the micro-blogging site to search for employment opportunities.
“One of the surprising findings of this research is that more public figures have not joined Africa’s burgeoning Twittersphere. With some notable exceptions, we found that business and political leaders were largely absent from the debates playing out on Twitter across the continent. As Twitter lifts off in Africa, governments, businesses and development agencies can really no longer afford to stay out of a new space where dialogue will increasingly be taking place” said Mark Flanagan, Portland’s Partner for Digital Communications.
Twitter a tool of revolution?
 Beatrice Karanja, an associate director and head of Portland Nairobi Kenya, said: “We saw the pivotal role of Twitter in the events in North Africa last year, but it is clear that Africa’s Twitter revolution is really just beginning. Twitter is helping Africa and Africans to connect in new ways and swap information and views.  And for Africa as for the rest of the world that can only be good.”
African Twitter users are active across a range of social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkdIn. Portland noted
However most Twitter users in the DRC are workers at foreign owned firms, locals constitute small percentages of tweeters, the country produces an estimated 64% of coltan and 15,000 tons of tin, or 4% of global production.
Coltan (also columbite-tantalite and known industrially as tantalite) is a dull black metallic ore from which the elements niobium (formerly “columbium”) and tantalum are extracted.  Tantalum from coltan is used to manufacture electronic capacitors, used in consumer electronics products such as mobiles phones [smart phones], DVD players, video game systems and computers. Coltan mining has been cited to finance serious conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Source: Wikipedia
In a latest UN report, The Guardian wrote the involvement of US in illegal deals in Congolese gold.
A US trade adviser appointed by Barack Obama orchestrated a deal to buy gold worth millions of dollars from a wanted Congolese warlord.
Kase Lawal is a Nigerian-born US oil tycoon, transferred millions of dollars to the notorious rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda between December 2010 and February 2011 as part of the deal, the report by the UN’s Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo states.
Ntaganda has been wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) since an arrest warrant was issued in 2006. He funds his exploits by smuggling natural resources in the mineral rich country, and faces allegations of recruiting child soldiers and presiding over mass rapes and murder of civilians by his troops in the National Congress for the Defence of the people (CNDP). Wrote The Guardian.
What’s the future of the DRC?

No comments:

Post a Comment