Submissions/Activating Africa

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2013.

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Submission no. 
Subject no. 
Title of the submission

Activating Africa

Type of submission


Author of the submission

Isla Haddow-Flood and Iolanda Pensa

Country of origin

South Africa, Italy


WikiAfrica, Wikimedia Kenya, Wikimedia South Africa, Wikimedia Botswana

E-mail address


Islahaddow (talk)

Personal homepage or blog


Africa remains the least covered and supported collective of cultures, histories, ideas and languages on Wikipedia. It also has the fewest contributors per capita of any other territory. There is an urgent need for Africa’s historic and contemporary reality to be truthfully represented on the world’s most accessible encyclopaedia, written by those closest to it. And yet, community activation is slow, and in some places has halted. This panel will discuss current projects and challenges across the continent. And provide a better understanding of how to accelerate the growth of communities that encourage a culture of contribution to Wikipedia.

Detailed proposal

Despite Wikimedia's global and noble ambitions, the African continent is the least covered and supported collective of cultures, histories, ideas and languages on Wikipedia. There are over a billion people speaking over 1,000 languages providing a never-ending, but relatively unseen, supply of heritage and expressing contemporary ideas about the continent, yet Africa has the fewest contributors per capita of any other territory.

A focus on Africa is absolutely necessary if we are to achieve the Wikimedia Foundation's goals according to its 2011 Strategic Plan. This situation is even more urgent, as more people across the continent access the internet via mobile technology. Mobile phone penetration in Africa is now at 65%, accounting for the world’s 2nd largest cell phone market [1], and just over half a billion tech savvy young people accessing it over the next 20 years. In the near future, it is imperative for Africa’s historic and contemporary realities to be truthfully represented if Wikipedia is ever going to achieve its goal of providing access to "the sum of all human knowledge".

There are certainly issues that continue to slow the growth of Wikipedia communities across Africa, but there are also exciting digital advances that have changed the landscape of engagement. The growth of vibrant, digitally innovative hubs across the continent are well documented, yet there remains several challenges that retard the development of a culture of contribution to the internet. This panel wishes to discuss (but is not limited to) the following:

  • a presentation of existing projects from Africa, case histories and lessons learnt;
  • what could be achieved by regional activations of train-the-trainer, and other community building projects;
  • the sustainable activation and development of GLAMs via enabled, supported and networked Wikipedians in Residence; and
  • what a WikiIndaba would do to galvanise Wikipedian communities across the continent.

Potential panelists are encouraged to submit ideas and papers for discussion.


  • Analysis and Public Engagement
Length of presentation/talk

75-90 Minutes

Language of presentation/talk


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Slides or further information (optional)

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  10. --SereinWMfr (talk) 13:54, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
  11. Crepi 18:55, 30 April 2013 (UCT)
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  13. Sharihareswara (WMF) (talk) 00:37, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
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  15. Jon Davies WMUK
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  20. Cornelia Trefflich (WMDE) (talk) 02:24, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
  21. Ilona Buchem (Beuth) (talk) 06:57, 11 August 2013 (UTC)