Dear Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Benin: Have You Heard of Wikipedia?

wikipedia_edits_africa_m.png

Looking at this map of Wikipedia edits from Africa, I am surprised by the total lack of edits from the gray areas. Some countries, like Somalia & Somaliland, I can expect to be light on input, but I would have expected more from other countries, like , , and . You would think the expats working there would at least add to the knowledge repository.

Then again, the creators of the map make a good point about Wikipedia:

It is widely considered the first point of contact for most general topics, thus making it an effective site for framing any subsequent representations. Content from Wikipedia also has begun to form a central part of services offered elsewhere on the Internet. Wikipedia is therefore an important platform from which we can learn whether the Internet facilitates increased open participation across cultures, or reinforces existing global hierarchies and entrenched power dynamics.

Looking at this map, I draw an obvious conclusion. Even with free Wikipedia access, the world is still not flat for everyone.

But that’s not to say that Wikipedia is not having an impact in . Their Wikipedia Zero efforts are starting to pay off handsomely. Just read their viewer stats from Niger and Kenya:

The news is good. Since the month prior to launch, we’ve seen 77 percent growth in page views through Orange Niger (compared to 7 percent for rest of Niger), and 88 percent for Orange Kenya (compared to -7 percent for rest of Kenya). For each of these two operators, their “Wikipedia share” (the percentage of mobile page views in that country from the partner’s customers) has nearly doubled in that time. Data sets for these two partners are both relatively small, so we’re careful to not to draw too many conclusions from them. However, we’re excited about what it might imply for the future impact of the program.

While they might be shy, I am not. Congrats to Wikipedia for getting more Africans to read the Wikipedia. Now let us get more Africans writing for it as well.


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