Four Students, Four Countries, Four Perspectives: A Roundtable Discussion of Technology, Business, and Youth in Namibia, Ghana, Cameroon, and South Africa.
Mobile phones represent more than 90% of all telephone lines in Africa. With access to mobile data growth at 129% per year and a growing online subscriber base, the internet and mobile technology is having a transformative effect on the lives of millions of Africans.
This Wednesday, October 26, the University of Washington’s African Studies Program is hosting a rare opportunity to hear from three students and one graduate of UW’s Masters of Communication in Digital Media program who have first hand experience of the ways in which the digital world is creating new opportunities and realities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. MCDM Associate Director, Anita Verna Crofts, will moderate the panel.
Current MCDM students Shelby Barnes, Pam Kahl, and Joseph Pavey recently spent time in Namibia, Ghana and Cameroon respectively, while MCDM graduate Alvin Singh lives and works in South Africa. Their experiences offer different perspectives on how digital media and information and communications technology (ICT) is affecting young people, culture, and business on a daily basis.
Shelby Barnes traveled to Namibia for the summer. Her work focused on observing the impact digital media is having on Namibian culture, business, and youth, and mentoring interns at one of the country’s top advertising agencies, adforceDDB.
Shelby took an in-depth look at how digital media is impacting the HIV/AIDS behaviors of Namibian youth and how greater access to information and communications technology is allowing many African youth to transcend old cultural and economic barriers. With estimates of 15-20% of the total population of Namibia infected with HIV/AIDS and with 40% of the population of Namibia being under the age of 15, Shelby researched whether digital technologies can help them understand the potential dangers of high-risk behavior. She also examined if access to information outside of Namibia’s borders can shift culturally-based behaviors that contribute to the epidemic and if HIV/AIDS education campaigns based in digital media environments can potentially impact the behaviors of Namibia’s youth.
Joseph Pavey spent this last summer working in Cameroon as a Technology Advisor for international nonprofit Plan International on their Youth Empowerment Through Technology, Arts, and Media (YETAM) project. YETAM teaches skills in social media, citizen journalism, and digital mapping to help make youth better advocates for change and development in their own communities.
Joe worked with two groups of youth in Ndop, a rural area in the NW region of Cameroon. Using video and digital still cameras, along with GPS and online mapping, the local youth are learning to become better advocates for change in their own communities, while also broadcasting their own experiences out to the wider global audience. You can learn more about his experiences through his blog.
Pam Kahl spent four weeks this past summer in Ghana. Ghana is one of the countries at the forefront of the African digital revolution and is set to be a major player in the African ICT sector in the next five years. A survey conducted by the Africa Business Panel among 800 business professionals involved with Africa ranks Ghana at number 4, after South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, as the continent’s favorite when it comes to the future of the ICT sector. Pam spent her time there teaching a storytelling seminar at Ashesi University, Ghana’s first liberal arts curriculum institution of higher education, and exploring the impact of information and communications technology on microindustries.
Alvin Singh works with entrepreneurs in South Africa who are looking for interactive marketing methods to boost sales and reach a broader consumer base. He primarily studies how mobile technology is moving rapidly across Africa and the different behavior habits of subscribers particularly—particularly youth. In addition, Singh works closely with legendary photographer Alf Kumalo to digitize over 60 years of his photos, and was given press access to follow First Lady Michelle Obama on her first solo trip to Africa.
These four very different experiences will provide a fascinating insight into the power of digital media and how its universality is bringing big changes – both good and bad – to the lives of many Africans, something that isn’t common knowledge to many of us here in the United States.
The event, Four Students, Four Countries, Four Perspectives: A Roundtable Discussion of Technology, Business, and Youth in Namibia, Ghana, Cameroon, and South Africa is free and will take place on Wednesday, October 26, 3.00pm to 4.30pm, COM 202, University of Washington. For further information, please contact Anita Verna Crofts at firstname.lastname@example.org.