Tag Archives: social networks

“Doublehanded” new politics? Observing @JMakamba and @ZittoKabwe

The hot topic of Tanzanian blogosphere at the moment seems to be use of social media by young politicians. January Makamba and Zitto Kabwe in particular have got the analysts thinking, documenting the use of social media by these two intriguing characters and trying to reach a conclusion on how significant this really is.

I won’t go through all the points raised, but posts on The Mikocheni Report (and earlier), VijanaFMAfterAfrica (and an earlier oneand another), Ani Jozen in the Guardian are all worth reading, as is this broader analysis from the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung that includes a brief section on Tanzania. The recent Tanzania Media Fund event on media and accountability helped the debate along, and of course it has raged on Twitter too. The tweets below were all posted in response to AfterAfrica’s recent post, change comes with the youthful? Continue reading

Gongo la Mboto revisited: social media and redio mbao

To date, this blog’s most read post, by a pretty wide margin, is our analysis of how traditional Tanzanian media reported the Gongo la Mboto explosions in February. There we used Twitter to piece together an assessment of traditional media’s performance in reporting the tragedy.

Since that was posted, at least three other blogs have also used Gongo la Mboto as a case study of the media in Tanzania – specifically Vijana FM, Global Voices and a more academic analysis from Malmo University’s Communication for Development Portal. Each has something valuable to offer, but as SwahiliStreet has rightly pointed out in comments on the Daraja and VijanaFM posts, none (ours included) have really got to grips with one big challenge of social media – accuracy and reliability. Continue reading

#bombsindar: Gongo la Mboto, the media event, as told by Twitter

The explosions at Gongo la Mboto on Wednesday were a huge tragedy in human terms and a huge embarrassment for the government in general and the army in particular. But they also showed up the state of the Tanzanian media in a less-than-positive light. Coverage of what’s probably Tanzania’s biggest news event of the year has been disappointing.

For various reasons I wasn’t able to follow TV or radio news directly, only indirectly via Twitter, Facebook and Jamii Forums. Journalism was once famously described as the first rough draft of history, but perhaps there’s now an even earlier “zero draft” available: the twitter feed recording an event as it unfolds. Continue reading

Reflections on the elections through a Daraja window

A few weeks have passed, (most of) the dust has settled and life is beginning to get back to normal. So it seems an opportune time to look back and reflect on what was a very interesting election period.

If you find yourself thinking, “oh no, not another election reflection,” rest assured we won’t be going over the same ground that has been very ably covered elsewhere (Pambazuka; Vijana FM; The Mikocheni Report – all of which are highly recommended.) Instead we will be looking at the election through a “Daraja window”, thinking about how the election affected core Daraja themes of water supply, local government, the media and civil society.

Let’s start with water supply. As this blog has previously highlighted, this was a non-issue in the campaigns, particularly at national level and despite consistently ranking very high in citizens’ priorities. Continue reading

Water supply in #Tanzania is political not technical, so where’s the politics? #uchaguzitz

The challenge of making clean and safe water accessible in rural Tanzania is political rather than technical or administrative. As this blog has discussed a couple of times in the past (see here and here), deciding where new water supply infrastructure should be built as well as keeping that infrastructure functioning are political challenges. We’ll take this argument further in this post, in the context of Tanzania’s current general election campaign, but let’s begin with a brief recap of why water supply is a political issue.

First, someone has to make a decision over which villages get priority for new projects. That’s a political decision, as evidenced by the fact that in practice it is generally villages that have some kind of political influence over decision makers that get priority. Many of these villages already have relatively good access to clean and safe water, but that fact doesn’t carry much weight when decisions are made. (See TAWASANET’s Water Sector Equity Reports for 2008 and 2009 for more detailed analysis). Continue reading

Media and civil society in #Tanzania – too close for comfort?

A debate has been rumbling recently in the blogosphere about whether the relationship between civil society and the media is becoming closer than should really be the case. As the director of an NGO that could be reasonably accurately described as a media organisation, how could I possibly hold back from engaging in such a debate!

The post that drew this discussion most particularly to my attention was from Pernille Baerentsen’s After Africa blog, asking the question: How much should international NGOs push the media to provide a certain kind of news? (Some other key links are listed below.) Pernille uses Twaweza’s DaladalaTV project as an example, a project that promotes public debate in the back of a commuter bus-turned-TV studio. Though she likes the programme, she complains that HIVOS, the Dutch NGO behind Twaweza, makes unlikely claims about the agenda being set by Tanzanian citizens.It is certainly the case that many NGOs (whether international or national – and most national NGOs are anyway largely dependent on foreign funds) have sometimes found attracting media coverage for their research and advocacy work to be challenging, and have shifted towards engaging the media directly in various kinds of partnerships. Whoever pays the piper picks the tune, as they say, so the content of such programmes is undoubtedly determined by the NGOs. Is that an infringement on the editorial independence of the media? Continue reading

Cards up in the air: Digital media as a disruptive technology in #Tanzania

The destruction brought by digital media to traditional media in the global north has been fascinating to watch, but pretty terrifying for people whose jobs and business models are at risk. The internet, blogs, social networks, and even mobile phones have all contributed to declining newspaper sales and advertising revenues, and to the closure of hundreds of newspapers.

In Tanzania the paper with the largest circulation is said to sell around 40,000 copies a day. Most of the papers are highly dependent on advertising, with the only possible exceptions being those who put political interests before commercial profitability. Meanwhile internet access continues to grow rapidly, driven by mobile phones. With mobile phones, developing countries have already leapfrogged fixed line networks, but they are now also leapfrogging laptops. Continue reading