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Task force/Africa

From Strategic Planning


There is no Africa task force, though the questions being asked for the Arabic task force can also be asked regarding Africa. Perhaps the Local languages task force covers this some...

  1. How will Internet use in Africa change over the next 5 to 10 years?
    • Will more non-English language speakers gain access to the Web?
    • Will increases in Internet use come primarily from increases in mobile devices or computers?
    • Will cell phone platforms support an African-language interface (e.g. Swahili) to access the Web?
  2. What is the demand for Wikipedia in African languages?
    • What does the online landscape for reference information in Africa look like?
  3. What is the potential role of other Wikimedia projects in Africa?
  4. How can Wikipedia increase participation in African-language Wikipedias?
    • How can Wikipedia increase awareness of Wikipedia in Africa?
    • What tools and support are necessary to further build the contributor base for Africa?
    • What lessons can be learned from other successful on line African communities?
  5. Who is needed to support this strategy, and what do they need to do? (e.g., Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, individual volunteers, external partners)

Africa is a hetergeneous continent that is best thought of as subregions. For more detailed information on different subregions, see:

Wikimedia in Africa


When considering education, we should always make a difference between formal learning and informal learning. Formal learning is often considered to be "education". However, in a daily life of billions of people the informal, everyday learning in their everyday life, is often much more important than their formal education.

Reliable information sources are extremely important in informal learning, but also in a process of transforming often very prejudiced curriculums of formal education to be more neutral.

According to Wikipedia there are an estimated 2,000 languages spoken in Africa. About 30-40 languages have more than 5 million native speakers. Most of the languages are written languages, though the literacy of the languages among the speakers of the languages can be low.

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child the States Parties agree that education of the child should be directed to ... his or her own cultural identity, language and values and that a child should not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group ... to use his or her own language.

With Wikimedia projects we should look for solutions that do not violate people's right to their native language, even if the people are not able to read or write the language. Providing Wikipedia content for -- and means to create content -- in audio or video recordings in a native spoken word would provide many people new opportunities for informal learning.


Stern (2002) suggest there is a literacy spectrum:[1] (is this valid, are there other ways to look at this?)

  • alphabetic literacy - able to write
  • functional literacy - able to read and write
  • social literacy - able to communicate in a cultural context
  • information literacy - able to locate, critically evaluate, and use information
  • digital information literacy - able to apply information literacy in the digital environment

In addition to classical literacy -- focusing mainly on written text -- there is media literacy that is not limited to written text, but all forms of messages we watch, hear, and read. Media literacy focuses on critical interpretation of different kind of information including news, entertainment, advertisement and propaganda in all different media, such as new papers, magazines, radio, TV, Internet/WWW etc.

In order to use Wikipedia as a reader, one would need the highest level of literacy -- digital information literacy or perhaps information literacy and media literacy. To contribute to Wikipedia as an editor, one may need a level of literacy and skill (& technical competence) beyond that.

UNESCO Information For All Programme (IFAP) defines information literacy as the capacity of people to recognize their information needs, locate and evaluate the quality of information, store and retrieve information, make effective and ethical use of information and apply information to create and communicate knowledge (Catts & Lau, 2008).[2]

Applied to Wikimedia projects

In order to use Wikipedia as a reader, one would need the highest level of literacy -- digital information literacy or perhaps information literacy and media literacy. To contribute to Wikipedia as an editor, one may need a level of literacy and skill (& technical competence) beyond that.

If Wikimedia content could be presented in alternative, simpler to use formats or platforms (e.g. offline, wikipocket reader(practical?), SMS, or something simpler), be well-written or presented concisely, and content organized/selected in a way that it's most relevant for the audience, then the information could be made accessible to those with social or only functional literacy.

In Wikipedia content could be presented in alternative media formats, such as audio and video the information could be made accessible for those with out alphabetic / functional literacy, but media literacy skills. Users with audio and video production skills, but not functional literacy in their native language could have content in Wikipedia in a recorded spoken narratives in audio and/or video.


  • In various countries, what is the level of literacy for African languages?
  • What level/extent of ability is there in the English and/or French languages? among the younger, well educated who might be more likely to contribute to a project like Wikipedia?



  • How open or restricted is the media (print, broadcast, internet) in various countries?


Questions: In various countries, what's the availability of internet access?

  • How much does broadband access (e.g. DSL or other options) cost, in relation to average household (or some measure of) income?
  • What is the level of censorship by the governments?
  • At internet cafes, is one required to provide their mobile phone number (and identify themselves) before getting a wi-fi access code?
  • How is the technical infrastructure and capacity?
  • If one has broadband service, is it capped at a certain amount of data usage per month?
  • Other questions...

See Also

  1. Stern, Caroline (2002) "Information Literacy Unplugged: Teaching Information Literacy without Technology"
  2. http://www.ejisdc.org/ojs2/index.php/ejisdc/article/viewFile/613/296



People to contact and get their thoughts on the questions:


Strategy proposals

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