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Blogging Goes Mobile in Africa

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The lack of infrastructure in Africa is keeping the information superhighway from much of the continent.

But by embracing new, mobile technologies, many Africans are using their mobile phones as a personal PC.

The African blogosphere is small but growing and Cedric Kalonji is one of its veterans. A blogger in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kalonji won the Best Weblog award for French at last year’s Best of the Blogs, hosted by Deutsche Welle.

Since winning the award, Kalonji said that he has received a lot more traffic to his site and is being asked by other bloggers around Africa for advice.

“My blog is a lot more well known now than it was. I have been getting a lot of visitors and emails,” said Kalonji.

To meet this increased demand and to help open blogging to more of his countrymen, Kalonji is working to develop a new blogging platform for Congolese bloggers.

Skipping the PC

While the blogging scene is quite active in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon or the Ivory Coast, the situation is much different in other parts of Africa. In Mali, for example, computers and the Internet remain inaccessible to much of the population due to the cost.

But new technologies are slowly catching on.

“In Africa, most people use a mobile phone to send messages, photos or videos, and they can be sent easily to a circle of contacts,” said Jeanne Mercier, head of the photographer exchange platform “Afrique in visu.”

“So at the same time users can inform themselves about the latest trends, whether it’s some great videos, the presidential election in Mali or religious topics,” she said.

A lot of experts are predicting that African bloggers will leapfrog over the PC platform right to the mobile platform, using tools like the micro-blogging platform Twitter.

“Even though Africa was very late in building technology infrastructure, this can be a chance to develop new technologies,” said Jean-Michel Cornu, chief scientist at the Next Generation Internet Foundation (Fing) in France.

“It is our goal to inform local decision makers as much as possible about new technologies so that eventually the price if the infrastructure will go down,” he said.

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