New media, Africa and 2020 … Guy Berger Rhodes University, South Africa



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New media, Africa and 2020 …


Sivu Mzamo

  • Tech story

  • Career story

  • Economic rights story

  • Spatial – development story

  • Cultural story



COMING UP:

  • Context: information society

  • Africa and South Africa

  • New Media Lab

  • Highway Africa

  • Conclusion



SECTION 1: CONTEXT



Modernisation paradigm

  • Assumption of desirable devt:

  • To get there: technology.

  • (= Romanticism and determinism)

  • Temp hurdle: tech haves, have-nots

  • In ICTs, the Digital divide (widening)

  • Answer: disseminate (Rogers)



Challenge!



Limitations

  • Desirables? Eg. USA?

  • Technology can be negative.

  • Tech progress is not inevitable.

  • How separate & temporary is the Digital Divide?

  • Dissemination is a top-down ethos:

    • Misses bottom-up tech evolution
    • Misses that the ‘haves’ need have-nots.


Future visions

  • Pete Rinearson:

    • Overestimate changes in 2 years
    • Underestimate in 10.
  • Media2020: 15 years away!

  • What is media? And its role?



Predicting

  • Certainties:

    • Globalisation: one world
    • Conflict: security issues
    • China: language, script
    • Connectivity & content: cheaper
  • Uncertainties:

    • Shape of inequalities
    • Cultural power


Options: what Info Society?

  • A holistic concept encompassing:

    • Tech: ICTs
    • Occupations
    • Economics
    • Geography
    • Culture.
  • = An integrated global Info Society, OR

  • = a divided, uneven one?



2020 scenarios

  • CENTRES

    • ICTs: ubiquitous
    • Occupations: service
    • Economics: GDP
    • Geography: insular
    • Culture: northern


Summing up:

  • A two-tier Information Society?

  • An inclusive Information Society?

  • … or a transformed one?



SECTION 2: AFRICA



Continent commonalities

  • Not media-dense

  • “Information” not nec “rational”

  • Not an exporter of content

  • Limited beneficiation of imported content

  • Policy environment problematic.

  • Even in SA, role of media constrained by:

    • Investment deficits & market size
    • Language diversity
    • Class and access issues.


South African media

  • Licenses: PBS, Commercial, Community.

  • National broadcasters

    • Terrestrial, analogue: advert dependent
    • Satellite TV by subscription.
  • Regional & local radio.

  • 15 dailies, 20 weeklies, 50 mags

  • = Important info-structure components.



SA media content and role

  • Independent, democratic

  • Commercialisation

  • Tabloidisation

  • Plagiarism, but not much piracy

  • Contraints on exports

  • Quality of content: mixed.



SA new media: internet

  • 3,6 million online users (5% adults)

  • Mainly white, 50% at work

  • Govt online, but weak MPCCs

  • Media web content: shovelware

  • Limited experiments in pay models

  • Not commercially viable for publishers



Connectivity:

  • 2 big ISPs plus Telkom

  • Still buying pipes from Telkom

  • Wireless: 3G from Sentech

  • Wifi – very limited.

  • VOIP banned.

  • February 2005: liberalisation

  • BUT: connectivity will still be costly!!!



Current costs:



Convergence Bill:

  • Move from vertical licensing:

    • To date, Telkom could do everything and a consumer received chain of services, infrastructure and devices from them.
  • To horizontal licensing:

    • Will be tiers of licences that are “tech neutral” and open for competitors.
    • But: radio spectrum use is not neutral.


Policy problems:

  • Infrastructure is one thing;

  • Applications is another;

    • Eg. signal distribution, ISP, ecommerce;
  • Digital content is something else.

  • Apps can be tech neutral – go on diff infrastructure

  • Content can ride on various apps & infrastructure

  • But historically, providers of content via airwaves (unlike newspapers) have conditions: local content, watershed periods, electoral obligations



Under new law?:

  • Suppose SABC is licensed as content provider (via airwaves) …

  • Does not need license for its website.

  • But what when the same website content travels on wireless?

  • Licensing of websites???

  • Is diffs between broadcast push & internet pull significant? (even wrt webcasting?)



What impact for future?

  • Or: will all content producers need licenses? Even newspapers with sites, or stand-alone sites, or bloggers? And not just audio-visual, but text content producers?

  • Or will those other than “spectrum-hogs” be exempted as a class?

  • Point: content licenses should not be relevant to channel (i.e. airwaves, but how this vehicle is used) = not tech neutral!

  • …. Until digital broadcasting comes along.



Telecoms industry:

  • Telkom: SDC, Malaysians.

    • Universal service targets but failure.
    • USA levy but failure.
  • Cellular operators success.

    • Vodacom (Telkom, Vodafone)
    • MTN, Cell-C
  • Predicted <500 000, now 18 million

  • African business expansion



Broadband blues

  • Telkom: ADSL

  • 2nd national operator – 2 years overdue (Transtel, Esitel)

  • Sentech: 3G



Evolution: content, other

  • SMS – 17 a month per user

  • Voice services

  • Costly to use GPRS

  • MTN going into M-commerce.



Journalists & ICTs

  • Barely use cameraphones.

  • Poorly skilled at web research.

  • Inadequate access in newsrooms.

  • Under-researched content in general.

  • Not multi-skilling, SABC bi-media reversed.

  • Negligible convergence of native & online newsrooms.



SECTION 3: NEW MEDIA LAB



Rhodes New Media Lab

  • Teaching

  • Research

  • Development

  • Highway Africa



1996-1998: phase 1



1998-2001: phase 2



2002-2004: Phase 3



Multimedia: 3 sites



2004: NML’s cms in Cuemedia









Work flow tracking



Performance monitoring



Automated online publishing



Time management



Going open source:



SECTION 4: HIGHWAY AFRICA



NML 2004 vision:

  • We see African journalists, empowered by the skills, understandings and access to technology, contributing to a communication and information enriched community, country and continent.



NML 2004 Mission:

  • Educate and train journalism students and the media industry;

  • Advance knowledge through research and dissemination of that research;

  • Innovate and experiment with technology;

  • Engage with industry and relevant interest groups.



2005-2008



Highway Africa history:

  • 2001: all African countries connected



Highway Africa history:

  • 2001: all African countries connected

  • 1997: HA commenced – 65 people

  • 2004: 430 external delegs, 17 sponsors

  • Aims:

    • Raise awareness
    • Impart skills
    • Bridge industry-academy
    • Continental networking


HA themes:



HA themes:



HA themes:



For HA, Info Society spans:

  • freedom for new & old media.

  • quality of information, African voices, policy issues.

  • global ICT potential.

  • And: it frames this big picture.



Highway Africa since 2000:

  • Website, daily paper

  • Radio, TV, cellular output.

  • Newsroom of the Future

  • Award for innovation

  • Exhibitions



2004: Highway Africa vision:

  • A vibrant & growing network of African journalists empowered to advance democracy & development through understanding & use of appropriate technologies.



Highway Africa mission:

  • sensitize journalists on role of ICT in society & media;

  • train journalists & journalism teachers in understanding & using technology to access, generate and distribute information;

  • network journalists, & link them with key stakeholders (academics, policy makers, civil society etc)



Networking examples



Highway Africa mission cntd:

  • Advocate for a media & technology environment which enables journalists to play their full role in democracy and development

  • Research the use and impact of ICTs in Africa with particular ref to the media

  • Publish and disseminate research and information across a range of platforms

  • Celebrate innovation & excellence & to promote better practice thru peer review



Celebrate example - awards:



Highway Africa programmes:

  • Five complementary interventions:

    • Research
    • Training
    • Policy reform
    • Information
    • Conference


1. HA research

  • Viability of newssites;

  • Web software used;

  • Coverage of IS policy in

    • Ethiopia, Senegal, DRC, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, (SA still under way);
  • Use of ICTs in 9 African countries.

  • 05: Content management in 6 states.



Research …

  • Results 04 ICT reporting:

    • Reproducing press releases
    • Reactive reporting
    • Uninformed, uneducated on ICTs
    • Silence on policy and WSIS
  • Results 04 ICT Use:

    • Poor access
    • Email use, only 50% for research
    • Low research skills
    • Newsrooms lack policies


2. HA training

  • Conference workshops x 20 p.a.

  • 2003: 10 day intro course;

  • 2004:

      • Intro course (22 journos)
      • Advanced course to IS (26);
  • 2004: Advocacy (Kenya)

  • 2005: Zim online, short courses.



Training: to report on, and use

  • Digital tech

  • Policy

  • Internet governance

  • Intellectual property

  • Indigenous knowledge

  • ICT reporting



3. HA advocacy

  • Objective: to expand media role as stakeholder in IS policies:

    • Conference Declarations
      • “03 Media & the Info Society”
    • WSIS prepcoms
    • IS policy database


4. Information - HANA



HANA history:

  • 2002: WSSD x 15

  • 2002: launch of African Union x 15

  • 2003: WSIS – prepcoms, Geneva x 25

  • 2004: Africa Telecoms, WSIS prepcom, Aitec, Marrakesh, Icann. x 20

  • 2005: Accra prepcom, Tunis in Nov



200 outlets …



Hana’s horizons:

  • Highly skilled journalists reporting ICT issues to African audiences;

  • Promoting informed ICT policy and practice around continent;

  • Becoming a commercially viable agency over a three-year period



5: Conference:

  • Pulling it all together:

  • Conference objective: To create a platform for sharing information, knowledge and experience in media and ICTs and to celebrate excellence

  • Research feeds training, and conference;

  • Training feeds HANA;

  • All feed advocacy.



media2020?



SECTION 5: CONCLUSION

  • Context: information society

  • Africa and South Africa

  • New Media Lab

  • Highway Africa



Prognosis:

  • Media role and content will significantly shape the Info Society.

  • Interventions are needed if we want degree of positive integration of Africa, and a common comms space.

  • The NML offers training, R&D.

  • Highway Africa = outreach impact.



Two developments to watch:

  • “Accidental computers”

  • AfricaMediaMatrix @ RU



So … open for collaboration

  • Guy Berger

  • G.Berger@ru.ac.za

  • http://www.highwayafrica.org.za

  • Thank you.




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