Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone in collaboration with Paradigm Initiative on the12th March 2020, held a panel discussion on ‘Using digital media as a tool to amplify voices in Africa’ in Freetown. The discussion brought together digital content creators, technological experts, and social activists to talk on how digital media can be used and its effects on African society. Ngozi Cole (Digital writer), Morris Marrah (Founder Sensi Tech Hub), and ‘Gbenga Sesan (Executive Director Paradigm Initiative based in Nigeria) were the speakers for the discussion in which a range of bloggers, storytellers and journalist took part.
People from across the world use digital media to amplify their voices and create awareness in society on different issues related to development. In Africa, accessing information has been very easy but there is a question of whether we are getting the right information at the right time or are we using the media as a platform to propagate misinformation and fake news. We hear about human rights, but people don’t often talk about digital right?
The discussion focus on 3 major topics
- Barriers involved in accessing information online especially in Africa.
- Bridging the digital divide both on online and offline platforms.
- How do people use their platform to tackle misinformation, fake news, and plagiarism?
‘Gbenga Sesan Executive Director Paradigm Initiative based in Nigeria said there are still people who use the radio as their means of getting information, they might not have the physical radio to be specific but they have it on their phones. This simply means the local media is still the best way to promote content despite the fact that it may be old, what we call new media today will be traditional media in 40 years’ time.
“In Nigeria, the largest platform to access information is on the radio,” he said.
In Sierra Leone, radio listening is common among citizens and it is the widest platform for spreading information. The country has more than 50 radio stations nationwide and people use it to get information and as a means of entertainment especially in areas where there is no internet.
Ngozi Cole a Digital writer mentioned in her presentation that to tackle misinformation, people need to be responsible for their individual platforms and make sure that they share credible information.
“When there is a lot of information out there it is very hard to filter what is correct and what is wrong,” she said.
Morris Marrah Founder and Director of Sensi Tech Hub pointed out that the most important thing for digital outlets out there is to build a 2-way dialogue platform and have a news website that creates a space where people can ask questions, especially during times of crisis.
“The only way we can combat the mistrust around news is to give people the opportunity to respond,” he said.
Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone is a nonprofit community-based organization and the first United Nations (UN) foundation campaign “Girl Up Club” in Sierra Leone. The organization aims to promote the health, safety, leadership, and education of adolescent girls in Sierra Leone.
Paradigm Initiative is a social enterprise that builds an ICT-enabled support system and advocates digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for under-served youth based in Nigeria and have 4 offices outside Nigeria.