Tag Archives: Social Media

Voices in the Web – Creating E-Platforms for Socioeconomic Discourse

Dotun Olutoke's Photographby Dotun Olutoke, honorable mention in the CIPE 2013 Blog Competition. Read the rest of the winning entries here.

When I was younger, the riddles and jokes section of Kiddies magazine oozed out an aroma that satisfied my reading pleasure. Of all the riddles I read as a kid, one remains memorable to me. It goes thus:

I am something. I am a good servant but a dangerous master.

What am I?

Electricity – was the answer I got after moments of a brain-tussling exercise.

As I grow older in this information-driven age, the relevance of this riddle came to the fore when social networking platforms were used as a mobilization arena for people to  protest against the removal of fuel subsidy in the ‘wee-days’ of 2012, specifically January 2-3. What used to be a platform where people share pictures, post comments about events, and connect with friends metamorphosed into a potent tool for rallying Nigerians of different religious, political, and social inclinations.

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Social Media Supports Democracy in Pakistan

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The last five years of democratic government helped Pakistani citizens to understand the benefits of living in a democratic society. One of those benefits is the ability to speak up and sharing your point of view. Social media is certainly helping Pakistani citizens to raise their voices.

Historically, media in general and social media in particular has been gagged in Pakistan by successive governments. On October 3, 2013, the most recent attempt was made by Sindh’s provincial government when it talked about banning social media platforms such as Viber, What’sUp and Skype in the province on the pretext of terrorists using these platforms for their activities.

Civil society organizations including Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and IT Related Services (P@SHA) together with social media users started campaign to protect their rights to access these platforms. Twitterraties  and Facebook users were at the forefront in condemning this move.

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Could Civic Crowdfunding Improve Governance in the Middle East?

(Photo: Twitter user csaila)

(Photo: Flickr user csaila)

Earlier this month, in an attempt to escape the heat wave afflicting Washington DC, I sought refuge on a bus awkwardly packed with well-dressed commuters. Almost all of the commuters were looking down, their palms glued to their gadgets, and their thumbs tapping into their virtual realities. I thought to myself: If only they would unplug themselves for a few minutes, pay attention to their immediate surroundings, and make room for more commuters entering the bus. What if there was an app for bus drivers to communicate with plugged-in commuters to move to the back of the bus?

Imagine a society in which citizens are as obsessed with their public spaces as they are with their smart phones. Instead of spending the five-minute bus ride going through friends’ Instagram uploads, commuters are checking the latest fundraising updates on the city’s bike-share system. Rather than liking someone’s photo on Facebook, commuters are donating $5 to a neighborhood association-backed project that renovates the sidewalks. In Kansas City, the online start-up Neighbor.ly is trying to turn this idea into a reality.

Neighbor.ly is a website that employs the business model known as crowdfunding – pooling money from the public – to obtain financial support for civic projects. Kickstarter and Indiegogo first popularized the idea by allowing musicians, engineers, designers, and artists to solicit money from the public for their creative works.

On Neighbor.ly, local governments and non-profit organizations have solicited tax deductible donations to build a playground, a website to help entrepreneurs navigate the application process to start new businesses, and a free Wi-Fi network for low-income houses. Donors’ credit cards will be charged only when the fundraising goal has been reached before the end of the campaign. In return for backing a project, the donors get small perks like free T-shirts and commemorative posters.

Civic crowdfunding is an innovative way to use technology to increase the efficiency, capacity, transparency, and accountability of governance. By engaging civic-minded individuals, websites like Neighbor.ly and Citizinvestor offer governments a helping hand from the people: money, expertise, and creative energy. They also allow the public to take ownership of civic projects and monitor the progress and delivery of local officials’ promises.

A pedestrian walkway in Holland that might have taken city hall two decades to complete got off the ground in three months. In the Middle East, where citizens face low taxes but rely on the bloated public sector for food and fuel subsidies, civic crowdfunding websites can serve as innovative mechanisms for accountable governance. Imagine if the millions of politically-engaged Egyptians used crowdfunding sites to improve their neighborhoods, pressure the government to be more transparent, and monitor the delivery of public services.

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Youth and the Social Media Landscape in Pakistan

Social Media

By Hammad Siddiqui and Emad Sohail

The youth of Pakistan, despite a multitude of problems like unemployment, poverty,social taboos, drugs, and crime, have always been in the forefront of movements for political change — as we saw in yesterday’s #YouthChange Twitter chats.

Young people played a key role in the 2013 elections, for example. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan a significant proportion of this year’s electorate is made up of people under the age of 35. Nearly half of the 84 million registered voters — 48 per cent — are aged between 18 and 35, while 20 per cent, or nearly 17 million voters, are under the age of 26.

Social media is one of the reasons for such strong youth participation in this year’s election, despite the fact that Pakistanis of all ages were barred from accessing YouTube. The aggressive engagement of youth on social media not only influenced political parties and hardcore political journalists to join social media platforms, but also drove them to mold their political agenda in this year’s elections campaign because of the youth voice for change.

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Pakistan’s Changing Media Landscape

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“Social media has no reins. I believe soon deprived people will learn how to express their feelings effectively through social media” – Shabbir H Kazmi, Senior Business Journalist 

According to the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, Pakistan stands at 159th position among 179 countries. After independence from British India in 1947, media in Pakistan was fully controlled by the government. Successive dictatorships and also democratic governments used censorship and other means to gag media in the country.

In 2002, after the formation of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, broadcast media flourished, with large numbers of FM radio stations and TV channels starting to operate throughout the country.

In the past five years of democratic government, the media has become more liberal and vibrant. However, A 2012 report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed the rising incidences of violence against the news media.

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Tunisian Partner Wins Award for Best Global Entrepreneurship Week Social Media

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This March, participants from 135 nations gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Congress. First held in 2009, the annual event brings together entrepreneurs, leading thinkers, researchers, and policymakers to celebrate entrepreneurship, in particular the successes of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

Every November, delegations from around the world, from Ghana to Turkey to the United States, organize GEW events that give future entrepreneurs the chance to expand their professional networks, better understand their countries’ business environments, and practice important skills, such as giving a pitch for a new business. Through partnerships with universities, community organizations, and businesses, Global Entrepreneurship Week teaches individuals how to create successful businesses that will support not only themselves and their families, but their nations’ economies.

In recognition of national committees’ outstanding achievement in organizing GEW events, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress bestows awards for most partner organizations, most activities, and best overall campaign.  And the winner of this year’s Buzz Builder Award for best use of social media?

That would be Tunisia. Led by CIPE partner IACE (l’Institut arabe des chefs d’entreprises), the Tunisian committee generated more social media support for its achievements during the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Week than any other delegation, no small feat for a country of about 10.6 million people.

IACE’s Center for Young Entrepreneurs, whose year-round programming supports the next generation of Tunisian entrepreneurs, took the lead in organizing Tunisia’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. GEW Tunisia events demonstrated the diversity of the business community and gave future entrepreneurs the information and tools they will need to start their own businesses.

The Center for Young Entrepreneurs produced a video to celebrate a successful GEW: in six days, 5,000 people participated in 80 activities across the country in support of entrepreneurship. Promoting the video through their website and Facebook page, IACE and the Center for Young Entrepreneurs went up against delegations from fifteen other countries—including Mexico, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, and the United States—to eventually win the 2012 Buzz Builder Award.

Tunisian society is no stranger to social media. In 2011, videos and images of protests in Tunisia quickly spread throughout North Africa and the world via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The ensuing revolution and ouster of the longtime regime set an example for similar regime changes in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere.

Almost two years later, IACE’s Center for Young Entrepreneurs invited the youth that sparked the Arab Spring to explore empowerment through entrepreneurship.  Inspired by changes in the region, Tunisians are clamoring for not only political but economic agency. With engaging, informative activities like Global Entrepreneurship Week, IACE is giving Tunisian youth the tools to transform their passion and ability into real economic opportunity.

Women Journalists and the Era of Social Media in Pakistan

“Online media is becoming the most popular, and for sharp career growth, one would have to embed technology in practice” – Daily Dawn, the largest circulated English Daily in Pakistan quoting Hammad Sddiqui, Deputy Country Director CIPE-Pakistan.

This certainly is the Social Era, where more and more people are getting connected via Facebook, Twitter and other similar platforms. Social media is now also considered an essential tool for journalists. In Pakistan there is a growing number of young journalists, working both in print and electronic media. Some of these journalists are familiar with social media – however, most journalists are not using these tools as effectively.

Recently, CIPE support a project by a Pakistani media development NGO Uks Research Center train female journalists on reporting on gender issues. Under the project “Powerful Women, Powerful Nation,” Uks arranged to conduct four workshops in the cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Multan, and Peshawar. I was invited to conduct a session of effective use of social media.

These sessions were attended by 100 working journalists. Some senior journalists did not even have email addresses, but I was astonished to see the enthusiasm among younger journalists in learning about Twitter and blogging.

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