Almost all internet searches in Africa bring up only results from the US and France

A man is photographed on a square decorated with a giant world map, with marks showing former Portuguese colonies, in Lisbon March 6, 2012. Portugal flourished as a global power with explorers like Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral building an empire which lasted for 600 years. Now a new wave of adventurers is once again seeking work, and hopefully fortune, elsewhere. Emigrating is fast becoming a preferred option for many seeking a decent living as their bailed-out economy suffers under debt, low growth and poor competitiveness. Portugal's booming ex-colonies in Africa and Brazil are a natural choice. Picture taken March 6, 2012. To match Feature PORTUGAL/EMIGRATION

Excerpt from this article:

Only eight countries in Africa have a majority of content that is locally produced. Most content comes from the United States and to a lesser extent, France, according to a new study published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers. In Africa, only South Africa and Madagascar ranked high in terms of local content. Even capitals or large cities like Lagos see little local content in Google search results.

“This gives rise to a form of digital hegemony, whereby producers in a few countries get to define what is read by others,” researchers Andrea Ballatore, Mark Graham, and Shilad Sen concluded. They analyzed more than 33,000 Google search results for 188 capital cities and found that the US accounted for over half of the first page of results for 61 countries.

Early advocates of the internet’s democratizing power believed it would give people more of a voice about their own communities and countries. Instead, it appears to be reinforcing digital divides between wealthier and better connected countries and poorer, less developed countries.

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How Everyday Africa Sparked a Movement That’s Changing Western Stereotypes of Africa

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Too often, the African continent has been captured by the West in a series of clichéd images: women carrying jugs of water atop their head; children either starving or wielding AK-47s; elephants and lions silhouetted against a savanna sunset. But that narrow focus is expanding.

This overdue perspective is thanks in part to Everyday Africa, an Instagram account-cum-global movement that’s shifting photojournalism toward collective, localized storytelling

TED Talk: You Don’t Need an App For That

After sharing a link to my stories about creative uses of technology in developing and emerging markets, a colleague sent through a link to this great TED talk: “While the rest of the world is updating statuses and playing games on smartphones, Africa is developing useful SMS-based solutions to everyday needs, says journalist Toby Shapshak. In this eye-opening talk, Shapshak explores the frontiers of mobile invention in Africa as he asks us to reconsider our preconceived notions of innovation.”

Thanks Chris T. for the link!

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/toby_shapshak_you_don_t_need_an_app_for_that.html

A Music-Sharing Network for the Unconnected

Photo: Digital-music merchants in Mali’s capital provide a vibrant human-driven alternative to iTunes. by Michaël Zumstein/Agence Vu, for The New York Times

Excerpt from this article, and be sure to check out the slideshow, excellent and interesting perspectives on downloading digital content in this part of the world:

…As of 2012 there were enough cellphones in service in Mali for every man, woman and child. The spread of cellphones in this way has driven innovation across the continent. M-Pesa, a text-message-based money-transfer system, has made financial services available for the first time to millions. Another enterprise tells rural farmers by text what their crops might sell for in distant markets; mass-texting campaigns have helped promote major public health initiatives.

Yet for many Africans, the phone is not merely, or even principally, a communications device. You can see this on the sun-blasted streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital, where a new kind of merchant has sprung up along Fankélé Diarra Street. Seated practically thigh to thigh, these vendors crouch over laptops, scrolling through screen after screen of downloaded music. They are known as téléchargeurs, or downloaders, and they operate as an offline version of iTunes, Spotify and Pandora all rolled into one. They know what their regulars might like, from the latest Jay Z album to the obscurest songs of Malian music pioneers like Ali Farka Touré. Savvy musicians take their new material to Fankélé Diarra Street and press the téléchargeurs to give it a listen and recommend it to their customers. For a small fee — less than a dime a song — the téléchargeurs transfer playlists to memory cards or U.S.B. sticks, or directly onto cellphones. Customers share songs with their friends via short-range Bluetooth signals.

The Traditional Mystics Going Online

Marabout1 on Skype

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West Africa’s marabouts, or spiritual guides, have advised their followers for centuries. And far from being at odds with the modern world, they are adapting and thriving in the 21st Century, says Jane Labous.

…All the best marabouts are on Skype these days, and Cherif is no exception. Via Skype from our current home in Dorset on the south coast of the UK, my husband and I call Cherif every week for updates on our fertility treatment. The morning post brings envelopes plastered with pink and green Senegalese stamps containing gris-gris and miniscule notes elegantly encrypted with Arabic prayers. My husband spends hours boiling them in water with ginger and honey according to the handwritten instructions.

My mother-in-law is, as you would expect, on the case. She rings with news of a fertility marabout advertising on Senegal TV, and we call the hotline from the UK. A crackling voice at the other end informs us in French that the minimum fee would be two million CFA – more than £2,000 ($2,950). Now that marabouts are marketing themselves, it seems prices are rising.