Issa Michuzi Azungumza Uingereza
Since Jon Barger put online what is considered to be the first blog (known as weblog by then) in 1995, millions of blogs have been created. Today, it is estimated that over 100 million blogs are created every day. As of December 2007, Technorati was tracking more than 112,000,000 blogs.
Even though it took a bit longer for Tanzanians to embark on the social media networking scene, such as blogging, when it finally did, the results were impressive. Today, there are over 200 active blogs written for Tanzania or by people who, in one way or another, refer themselves as Tanzanians.
It is fair to estimate that at least 10 to 20 blogs or online forums are created every week by Tanzanians with the purpose of sharing information, news and personal thoughts on different issues affecting or occurring in Tanzania or by Tanzanians wherever they could be in the globe.
It is therefore pretty safe to suggest that Social Media, as of today, stands out as one of the major sources of news and information sharing among Tanzanians in the Diaspora and home. It is a significant source of meaningful discussions; a place for citizens to air their opinions, show patriotism for their beloved country, and communicate ideas while positively criticizing one another. The discussions range from political to economical and by large, social issues at hand.
WHAT TANZANIA’S HOME/DIASPORA SOCIAL NETWORKERS SHOULD STRIVE FOR
1. To involve all stake holders of the “New Media” and to discuss how to engage the government, media houses and the community at large in today’s rapidly growing and expanding social media phenomena.
2. To ensure that Social Media is formally recognized as an important tool in sharing and disseminating news and information and also a central tool for educating, entertaining and fostering freedom of expression.
3. To highlight the unique opportunity that Social Media brings on the table in contributing to social, political and economic development and also to come up with specific recommendations to the government on how it can tap in to make the “New Media’ for social change even more meaningful.
4. To forge partnership between Social Media stakeholders and media houses/outlets on information sharing, compensations, recognition and media ethics.
5. Share knowledge and the best practices of Social Media and how the “New Media” could actually be utilized in bringing social, economic and political change.
6. Promote freedom of speech and information through blogging and other social media.
7. Strengthen cooperation between the Government and Social Media Practitioners.
8. And, more importantly, Social Media should act as a bridge to allow us cross the existing information ocean flowing between Home and the Diaspora, the absence of which greatly undermines government and stakeholder’s resolve to ensuring the much cherished rapid economic and social change.
SOCIAL MEDIA RATIONALE
Information is power. As a Social Media Networker, I firmly believe that through information; a lot can be achieved and developed. And in order to acquire the intended or dreamed about success and desired economical, political and social changes, we require local, regional and international approaches.
Therefore, there is a need for developing, as soon as much as possible, a public policy platform that focuses on fostering on how meaningful dialogues which starts in the Social Media sphere can be utilized to achieve the above mentioned goals and how to achieve social empowerment of the people through the provision of equal opportunities of being heard and contributing ideas, thoughts and best practices.
We should endeavor to see that there is a strong collaboration across all media sectors so that there is effective means of disseminating useful information and news to all communities.
WHY SOCIAL NETWORKS
As a social networker, I believe that empowerment of the people through information is an important part not only for fostering democratic principles of the country but also for social, economical and political advancement both at home and abroad.
Therefore, the main intention of should be not only to give Stakeholders the opportunity to learn and appreciate even more the “power of Social Media ” but also to introduce the New Media to even larger communities and specifically to schools and other educational, social, finance and other institutions.
EXPECTED OUTCOMES SHOULD THAT BE IMPLEMENTED
• Strong partnership between the Social Networkers and the Government
• An avenue for regular dialogue between Social Networkers at home and in the Diaspora,
• Understanding the global changes when it comes to social media, as well as citizen journalism
• Discovery and deeper understanding about new media technologies, free and open source software, and many useful Web 2.0 tools
• Provide Tanzania’s Local and Diaspora Social Networkers with an opportunity to learn from each other and expend knowledge on the use of new technologies.
• Be a forum for Tanzanian Internet surfers/users and other stake holders the opportunity to interact and build their network.
• Engage attention from traditional media, civil society, development agencies and private entities to new technologies (Open Source and Web2.0) and Tanzanian Social Newtworks both home and abroad.
• Consulting and facilitation with various stakeholders in organizational change and community outreach
• Create more favorable conditions to allow for the return of Tanzania in the map of writers, thinkers etc
• Establish effective ways and means of channeling and disseminating news and information to the public and create dialogues that result into true social changes.
• Teaching and helping new writers and Social Media Networkers to establishing their own forums that are not necessarily of news in nature but informative. Think of how the potential Tanzanian investor in the Diaspora has to sweat it out to search for relevant information on how to set up a business, or a researcher who needs vital information from home for his or her thesis.
The government should subsidize internet accessibility. Only recently the US government has put in place a policy that is aimed at ensuring rural communities have access to internet free! So, I believe, we have to move to wireless internet (it is cheaper, and fortunately we already have Fibre Optic) as not only users will have access to internet but also even those institutions that can ill afford paid for internet services would start looking for online presence. That is, without making internet affordable it will remain a luxury only to a few.
So far.. almost the same information circulated through Social Networks is not sufficient presented because information that is on Michuzi Blog, Haki Ngowi, Maggid Mjengwa is the same that is on newspapers, radio and TV. We have to widen the sources.. When we start (and its happening slowly) to obtain materials from Moshi, Tukuyu, Musoma, Muheza, Bariadi and Ukerewe and so forth then you know.. We are getting somewhere..But you know what.. It all depends on supply and demand.. For long Social Networks have been supplying certain type of information, entertainment, politics.. udaku.. (those are the 3 things that seem to be of high demand. Now.. as long as the choices remain those 3 it means stakeholders will continue to wallow in there only. So, who is to create the other info? How do they get exposure?
.The Government needs to make the net accessible and affordable to all, and social networkers be creative, innovative and passionate in what they are doing.
And this is the major challenge that the government and stakeholders have to address; including Tanzanians both at home and in the Diaspora. They should unite and come up with sustainable and affordable answers.
1. The Government should coordinate with Home and Diaspora Social Media Networkers in creating a common forum, let’s say Tanzania Home and Diaspora Forum ( like Jamii Forum etc) to be a bridge. The Diaspora Desk at the Ministry should supervise this
2. Form a small team of networkers at Home and Abroad to run the forum. ( I Volunteer to be one such person from home)
3. Ensure a two way traffic flow of information from Home and the Diaspora is established, maintained and sustained
4. Allow all stakeholders in the Diaspora access the forum not only as readers but also by contributing news, informative articles, ideas from all over.
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING