Wiki In Africa
Global access for all to open knowledge that reflects the diverse cultures, biodiversities, peoples, and histories of the African continent with the same depth and breadth as other knowledges.
Wiki In Africa is a non-profit voluntary association that is based in South Africa. It is a financial and legal structure that operates global initiatives in support of the WikiAfrica movement. The WikiAfrica movement is a collective of interventions that supports the aims and development of the Wikimedia movement and community across the geographical space of Africa.
Its objective is to empower and engage citizens of Africa and its diaspora to collect, develop and contribute educational and relevant content that relates to the theme of Africa under a free license, and to engage in global knowledge systems by encouraging access to, awareness of, and support for open knowledge, the open movement and the Wikimedia projects, working in collaboration with like-minded organisations.
WHAT Wiki In Africa IS NOT: Wiki In Africa has absolutely NO intention of working above, instead of, or replacing any national user group. The purpose of Wiki In Africa is to create projects that consistently collaborates with and supports the work of existing and future Wikimedia Volunteer teams and Usergroups, and in no way to replace any of the work that they do on the ground.
- non-profit voluntary organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa in 2017
- Registration number with South Africa's Department of Social Development: 187-625 NPO
- requesting Usergroup status from Affcom (mid-2018) as Wiki In Africa Usergroup
- Website: www.wikiinafrica.org
- youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyG_DCysivx59E2olI_BEcQ
- vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user62208780
The Problem Statement
Wikipedia, the world’s most used online encyclopedia, has become a reference point on any number of subjects for a global audience with 18 billion page views and nearly 500 million unique visitors each month. It overarching ambition is to be the platform on which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. Despite this global ambition however, the African continent remains the least covered and supported collective of cultures, histories, ideas and languages on Wikipedia. Africa also has the fewest contributors per capita of any other region.
Yet, as more people across the continent access the internet via mobile technology (Africa is now the world’s 2nd largest cell phone market with 600 million phones being used daily), it becomes increasingly important for Africans to take advantage of platforms where Africa’s contemporary issues, its history, people and initiatives may be freely published for universal access.
Wikipedia currently offers the following access to information:
- number of languages covered: 293
- number of words: 27 billion
- number of articles all together: 40 million (5.3 million in English Wikipedia)
- number of unique visitors: 500 million visitors
- number of pageviews (per month): 15 to 20 billion
- it is currently ranked as the 7th most used website in the world.
The Wiki in Africa rises from the continental experiences of the WikiAfrica initiative. The organisation focuses on supporting projects that bridge two significant gaps on Wikimedia projects – African content and African contributors. More about the content and contributor gaps can be read in the article Mind The Gaps on the Wiki Loves Women website.
For a range of historic and other reasons, Africa is the least visible continent on the internet. What has been written about Africa has mainly been written by people from the West. This has created a paucity of information about an entire continent of around a billion people. This results in limiting our understanding of the complexities that exist on such a vast geographical space around such diverse issues as culture, economics, politics, history or contemporary entertainment. It perpetuates what the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls “the danger of a single story” about Africa.
The real danger of this single story about Africa on the Internet is that as Africans start accessing the internet in their millions via mobile phones, they too will start to believe what they read. There are currently 650 million mobile users in Africa, far surpassing the number in the United States or Europe. In some African countries more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water, a bank account or even electricity.
Wiki In Africa : Objectives
Our vision : Global access for all to open knowledge that reflects the diverse cultures, biodiversities, peoples, and histories of the African continent with the same depth and breadth as other knowledges.
The Mission : Wiki In Africa’s mission is to rebalance the type and diversity of information and perspectives that are available online about and from Africa, using Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, as a platform for the dissemination of this information to multiple peoples residing on and off the continent. In short, it is to help people and organisations create and preserve open knowledge, and to help provide easy access for readers to knowledge and perspectives relating to Africa.
Key dates for Wiki In Africa
- 11 November 2016: Founding AGM meetup in Cape Town with Iolanda Pensa, Florence Devouard and Isla Haddow-Flood
- 23 March 2017: South Africa’s Department of Social Security authorises the registration of Wiki In Africa as a voluntary organisation and official NPO (187-625 NPO).
Official Organisational Address: 114 Runciman Drive Simon’s Town Cape Town 7975 South Africa
- non-profit voluntary organisation
- Registration number with South Africa's Department of Social Development: 187-625 NPO
- Website: www.wikiinafrica.org
- youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyG_DCysivx59E2olI_BEcQ
- vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user62208780
- curated resources : WikiFundi Resources
- Mai 2018 Lettre d'actualité en français : 
- May 2018 Newsletter in English : 
- Nov 2017 Lettre d'actualité en français : 
- Nov 2017 Newsletter in English : 
History of Wiki In Africa
- The WikiAfrica mouvement
- WikiAfrica is an international movement that takes place on the African continent and beyond. It encourages individuals, interested groups and organisations to create, expand and enhance online content about Africa. This involves motivating for the representation of the continent’s contemporary realities and history, its peoples and its innovations on the world’s most used encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. WikiAfrica is not owned by one organisation and it belongs to all people and organisations contributing to its scope.
- In its various guises and hosted at several institutions (including Lettera27, Africa Centre, Ynternet.org, and Wikimedia CH), the WikiAfrica movement has consistently instigated and led multi-faceted innovative projects. These projects have activated communities and driven content onto Wikipedia. Examples include Share Your Knowledge, #OpenAfrica training Courses and Toolkits, Kumusha Bus (in Ethiopia and Ghana), WikiEntrepreneur (in Ethiopia and Malawi), Kumusha Takes Wiki (Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda) and Wiki Loves Africa. The mouvement was started around 2006.
- The organisations that have collaborated on or hosted WikiAfrica projects (from an administrative point of view)
- lettera27 Foundation: http://lettera27.org since 2006
- Africa Centre: http://www.africacentre.net since 2011
- SUPSI: http://www.supsi.ch since 2014
- Ynternet.org: http://www.ynternet.org since 2016
- Wikimedia CH: http://www.wikimedia.ch since 2016
- Goethe-Institut Johannesburg: http://www.goethe-institut.de since 2016
- Wiki In Africa: http://www.wikiinafrica.org since 2017
- The people active in the mouvement
- Several dozen of people have been active as part of the WikiAfrica mouvement. Amongst those, Florence Devouard (user:Anthere), Isla Haddow-Flood, and Iolanda Pensa have been particularly active, through several projects, such as Wiki Loves Women, Wiki Loves Africa or WikiFundi. When running projects, they had not only to identify the volunteers to involve, the partnering organizations to work with, the funding... but also to find a host for each project.
- Lessons learned
- For any project to have traction in Africa, it needs to start at the beginning with visibility for Wikipedia and to change the internet culture away from one of knowledge consumption (google) and connection (Facebook, What’s App) towards a culture of contribution.
- We must be culturally flexible and respectful of the many elements that challenge the adoption of projects on the continent. We must find solutions in collaboration rather than force our ideas. The development of WikiFundi is one such response.
- There are many different ways to work, and they are not all the “traditional” wiki way. Left of field and blue ocean thought must be adopted to make it work within the many layers of the African continent.
- The hosting conundrum
- The positive side of being hosted:
- Working with another organisation’s systems: admin, existing organisational structure, bank account, etc.
- Sharing communications across many different channels and networks.
- The negative side of being hosted:
- Finding the correct “fit”
- Having to align each project’s goals and timelines to suit the host organisation
- Navigating knowledge gaps and personalities
- Being at the mercy of their understanding of “ownership”
- Being insecure if the organisation’s focus changes or they have a financial crisis
- The need for an association
- The main reason behind setting up Wiki In Africa is for an organisation’s focus to be entirely devoted to the mission, and not just be a sideshow or viewed as a “project”. Other reasons behind setting up an association is to allow the NGO to grow and succeed as the work is successful and the Wikimedia volunteer communities and projects develop and mature. Wiki In Africa wishes to continue the work of the projects that its lead people have conceptualised and developed.
- The key element behind setting up the voluntary association is to maintain the movement’s flexible nature. It is hoped and expected that the membership will expand and grow once the organisation is sustainable and the longer it matures.
- In the first interim phase, it was our wish to maintain some of the WikiAfrica movement projects with the organisations that still maintain the movement’s mission (one example being working with ynternet.org on Wiki Loves Africa or collaborate with like minded organisations, such as Lettera27 in WikiAfrica Schools). This fluidity will be assessed as and when needed and appropriate and like-minded organisations wish to be involved.
- It must be clearly stated, that Wiki In Africa entirely respects the CC-BY-SA licence of the WikiAfrica movement and does not have any desire to “own” the brand. If other organisations wish to create WikiAfrica movement based projects, we are entirely supportive of their right to do so, as long as the licencing conditions are similarly respected.
- The funders of Wiki In Africa
- Isla Haddow-Flood (South Africa), Chair
- A Zimbabwean by birth, and a Capetonian by adoption, Oxford-educated Isla Haddow-Flood is a writer, editor and project strategist who is passionate about harnessing communication technology and media platforms for the advancement of open access to knowledge; specifically, knowledge that relates to and enhances the understanding of Africa via the Open Movement (and especially Wikipedia). Since 2011, Isla has been working to Activate Africa. Working with members of the WikiAfrica movement, she has conceptualised and instigated #OpenAfrica, Kumusha Bus and WikiEntrepreneur. :With Anthere/Florence, she has also been the co-leader of projects related to Wikipedia and Africa, such as Wiki Loves Africa (annual photographic contest), Kumusha Takes Wiki (citizen journalists in Africa collecting freely-licensed content). In 2016, Florence and Isla developed and ran Wiki Loves Women (content liberation project related to African Women), Wikipack Africa (an action kit for Wikipedians across Africa), WikiFundi (an offline editing environment that mimics Wikipedia), WikiAfrica Schools (a pilot schools programme in high schools in South Africa) and WikiChallenge African Schools (that introduces the next generation of editors to Wikipedia). >> Linkedin profile
- Rachel Zadok (South Africa), Treasurer
- Zadok was born in South Africa in 1972 to a South African mother and an Israeli father and grew up in Kensington, a white middle-class suburb of Johannesburg. She later studied Fine Art and worked as a freelance graphic designer. In 2004, Zadok entered the 'How to Get Published' competition on Channel 4's Richard & Judy Show, reaching the final five of 46,000 entrants. Pan Macmillan subsequently offered her a publishing contract. Gem Squash Tokoloshe was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book Awards First Novel award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and long-listed for the IMPAC Award. On her return to South Africa, she wrote her second book Sister Sister and launched the highly successful and influential NGO, Short Story Day Africa. >> Linkedin profile
- Emma Kaye (South Africa), Secretary
- Emma Kaye was born in Harare, Zimbabwe. On completing her A'Levels she studied business, marketing and computer programming at Oxford Brookes University, England and from there moved to the London School of Economics. During her time in London, Kaye worked in financial PR and wrote short term money management programs for the money markets. Kaye has a number of seminal (and enduring) business and industry ventures to her name, and attained multiple professional accolades and leading-light endorsements in the course of a steadily evolving, outwardly mercurial-seeming career spanning only 15 years. She draws attention to the strong business underpinning of her work, pointing out that her involvement has twice had the result of giving sustainable business direction and African brand equity to a highly charged, emerging sector. >> Linkedin profile
- Florence Devouard (France)
- A Wikipedian since 2002, a former Chair of Wikimedia Foundation and a founding member of Wikimedia France, Florence Devouard was born in France where she currently lives. She is a public speaker and a consultant. She helps organisations to discover and implement new internet-based tools. :Above everything, she loves to share her knowledge of new practices and online communities. She cares for language diversity and multicultural dialogue, and is a supporter of the open-source and free knowledge movement. Since 2013, Florence is the co-leader on projects related to Wikipedia and Africa, such as Wiki Loves Africa (photographic contest in Africa), Kumusha Takes Wiki (citizen journalism to collect and create freely-licensed content in Africa). She also participates as the Scientific Collaborator at SUSPI to the Wikipedia Primary School SSAJRP research programme (developing and evaluating a system to assess Wikipedia articles for primary education in South Africa). In 2016, Florence and Isla developed and ran Wiki Loves Women (content liberation project related to African Women), Wikipack Africa (an action kit for Wikipedians across Africa), WikiFundi (an offline editing environment that mimics Wikipedia) and WikiChallenge African Schools (that introduces the next generation of editors to Wikipedia). >> Linkedin profile
- Iolanda Pensa (Italy/Switzerland)
- Iolanda Pensa was born in Switzerland and currently lives in Milan, Italy. Beginning in high school, she’s traveled everywhere from the U.S. to the U.K. and from Russia to Africa. An active Wikipedia contributor since 2006, Iolanda is deeply involved with the WikiAfrica project, but is also a researcher and art critic. She is currently based at SUPSI in Switzerland leading the Wikipedia Primary School SSAJRP programme. She was also the lead organiser for Wikimania Esino Lario in 2016. >> Linkedin profile
Wiki In Africa’s activities supports the aims of the Wikimedia movement across Africa. We support free expression, a free and open Internet, and the use of open licenses and the protection of the public domain.
Its beneficiaries are Readers, Students and existing and potential Wikipedians. Its target groups or audiences are the individuals and collective knowledge in Civil Society partners (content and network and educational), Wikimedia and Open aligned volunteer groups and education organisations.
Empower and engage citizens of Africa and its diaspora to collect, develop and contribute content [and perspectives] relating to the theme of Africa under a free license and engage in global knowledge systems by encouraging access to, awareness of, and support for open knowledge, the open movement and the Wikimedia projects, working in collaboration with like-minded organisations.
Wiki In Africa exists as part of an international movement of organizations and volunteers that aims to increase the world's knowledge. This work takes place in four parts:
- Establishing, through research, the gaps in knowledge that exists on Wikipedia about each country and community in Africa and find innovative and unexpected ways of drawing this information onto Wikipedia;
- Activate, train and support a self-sustaining new generation of dedicated and proactive Wikipedian editors from across the continent that are able to generate new articles and subjects relevant to contemporary Africa by changing online behaviour and offline attitudes to knowledge,
- Activate, train and support the growth of new User Groups and Wikimedia Chapters across Africa to effectively organise, deploy and reward these new editors through national and continental activities, and
- Assist and support the upload and expansion of content that already resides in heritage, culture, news-gathering and academic institutions across Africa.
Wiki in Africa envisions that fledgling and emerging communities are given as much encouragement, mentorship, support and access to resources that is needed to become fully fledged, contributing and involved communities that support the Wikimedia vision within their own environment. It is determined to obliterate the term Emerging Communities by 2030.
Approach used: research, community activation and building, education, empowerment
Knowledge gaps and biases
Through the work of Wiki In Africa, the Wikimedia movement will have identified, collected, and its projects will reflect the knowledge and perspectives that encapsulate the full range of human and biological experience across the geographic and theoretical idea of Africa by embodying an open culture that celebrates, values, and actively incorporates diversity.
Approach used: research, partnerships, education, access
Diversity, inclusion and empowerment
Within the theoretical and geographical framework of Africa, Wiki in Africa will assist the Wikimedia movement to become a proactive agent of change towards the subversion of systems of knowledge inequality, by embracing the values of diversity and inclusivity that empowers individuals and groups to contribute to global knowledge systems.
Approach used: innovation, individual empowerment, education, access
Strategic subject focus’
Please note that although Wiki Loves Africa is deeply aligned with the Wiki In Africa projects, it is not yet included in the run down above. This is because the project is currently operating in partnership with the host organisation, ynternet.org. And a grant application for the 2017 competition is active.
|Focus||Programmes/Projects||Means||Strategic approach||Strategic priority|
|Gender||Wiki Loves Women
#15Challenge Writing contest
|Innovation, Training and education, Community activation and building, Partnerships||
Wikipedia Open Education Resources
|Direct interventions and training with schools, Foundation Orange and educational organisations.
A research project into usefulness and usability of Wikipedia in Africa's schools.
|Innovation, Training and education, Individual empowerment, Partnerships
Research, individual empowerment, partnerships
|Cultural heritage||Kumusha Takes Wiki
Share your Knowledge
|Training and education, Individual empowerment, Partnerships
Training and education, Cultural partnerships, Community activation and building,
|Volunteer support||Wikipack Africa
Kumusha Bus / Wikipedia Dinners
|Technical and resource support
Movement specific outreach
Movement specific training
|Community activation and building, Training and education
Skills transfer for groups to activate
|Wikimedia community awareness||#16WikiWomen
#15Challenge Writing contest
Wiki Loves Women
Wiki Loves Women started in 2016 in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. Launched in Uganda and Tanzania in July 2018
Using the GLAM model that works with Civil Society, Media and Education organisations in focus countries, Wiki Loves Women encourages the contribution of quality information on African women to be published on, and made widely available via, Wikipedia. The 15-month pilot was conducted in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria and was supported in partnership with the Goethe-Institut’s in those countries.
- website: http://www.wikiloveswomen.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WikiLovesWomen
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/WikiLovesWomen
- May 2018: Wikimedia Foundation project grants committee approves application for funding to launch project in Uganda and Tanzania.
- in 2017 #17African feminists (2 languages)
- in 2016 #16WikiWomen Translation Drive (many languages)
- in 2015 #15Challenge Concours d’écriture (several languages)
Wiki Loves Africa
Wiki Loves Africa was launched as an annual thematic photographic contest in 2014 (prior to the creation of the association). Anyone can enter images from Africa over the two months of the competition, although events are run in several focus countries by local teams. Over the last four years, it has been active in 14 countries across Africa - and over 40,000 images and media files that celebrate the variety and richness of cultures of Africa have been contributed for use on Commons. Themes that have been covered so far include Cuisine (2014), Cultural Fashion and Adornment (2015), Music and Dance (2016), People at Work (2017), and Play! (2019). The contest should be held in 2020.
Wiki Loves Africa has been variously hosted by the Africa Centre (2014 and 2015) and Internet.org (2016, 2017, and 2019) as fiscal sponsors. It was conceptualised by Florence and Isla and WiA is the lead organisation. Funding for the competition has been provided by the Wikimedia Foundation, Foundation Orange, with some institutional support from the Goethe-Institut.
- video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgYHJ2wWdz8
- Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wikilovesafrica
- Facebook organisers group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1948226822099948/
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/wikilovesafrica
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wikilovesafrica/
WikiFundi provides an offline editable environment that is a similar experience to editing Wikipedia online. WikiFundi allows for training on, and contribution to, Wikipedia when technology, access and electricity outages fail or are not available at all. The project is currently operational in 16 countries via two programmes: Wikipack Africa (where it assists the outreach work of Wikipedians in Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda) and the WikiChallenge African Schools programme that is part of the Orange Foundation’s Digital Schools Project). The creation and pilot project has been funded by Foundation Orange, supported by Wikimedia CH in 2016. A version 2 was under development in summer 2018 with a release in fall 2018, with the support of Wikimedia Foundation.
- WikiFundi - Summary: presentation, people, figures, releases etc.
- http://www.wikifundi.org - WikiFundi Website
- WikiFundi Resources - Resources curated for WikiFundi
WikiChallenge African Schools
The WikiChallenge African Schools encourages schools across Africa to compete by writing Vikidia articles about their city, town, village, suburb, a local landmark or a notable local person using the WikiFundi platform. The competition is a fun introduction to writing Vikidia articles and add information about Africa to the global online encyclopedia. WikiChallenge African Schools operate from September to December 2017 via the Digital Schools programme of the Orange Foundation and was implemented in Guinée, Tunisia, Madagascar, and Mali. The project was funded in 2016 by Foundation Orange and supported by Wikimedia CH. A second iteration was held in 2019.
The project will relaunch in 2020.
- in 2018, 4 countries involved, 33 schools, 40 articles written, 6 winning schools
- in 2019, 7 countries involved, 65 schools, 99 articles written, 600+ photos submitted, 11 winning schools
- WikiChallenge Ecoles d'Afrique/en - a summary (presentation, people involved, results...)
- https://fr.vikidia.org/wiki/Projet:WikiChallenge_Ecoles_d%27Afrique - home of the wikichallenge
- https://www.facebook.com/ConcourswikiChallengeEcolesdAfrique/ - facebook page of the wikichallenge
Status: Pending Phase 2 funding
A 6-month pilot (May to October 2017) to collaboratively develop an intervention that trains and supports willing schools and institutions to incorporate a WikiAfrica Schools programme into their work within the curriculum. Each school built the model they will use to incorporate contributing to Wikipedia as a tool to develop and strengthen their curriculum-aligned teaching by using the WikiFundi offline editing environment. The pilot project was supported by lettera27 (later Moleskin Foundation) in collaboration with African School of Excellence and the Global Teachers’ Institute in South Africa.
- 2019: morphing into a new project : Open Curriculum
- January 2018: Pilot phase for Moleskine Foundation funded programme in South Africa closes.
- March 2018: Pilot phase report submitted to funders. Second phase application submitted to Moleskine Foundation for review.
- April 2018: WikiAfrica Schools Collaboratory closes and report submitted after successful consultation with education stakeholders in South Africa.
ISA is a fun, multilingual, mobile-first 'microcontributions' tool, that makes it easy for (groups of inexperienced) people to add structured data to images on Wikimedia Commons. With ISA, you can choose a pre-defined set of images on Commons and then ask contributors to 'tag' these with multilingual structured metadata. Points are counted for each contribution, and therefore it is possible to organize 'tagging' or microcontributions competitions or challenges with ISA.
ISA is originally built to provide better multilingual and structured descriptions of Wiki Loves Africa images. But it is also developed to be useful to all of the Wiki Loves competitions, and eventually for all media files on Wikimedia Commons.
ISA is developed as a collaboration between Wiki In Africa, Histropedia and the Structured Data team on Commons project. It is a GLAM pilot for Structured Data on Wikimedia Commons. The software is being released in fall 2019.
Access the tool: https://tools.wmflabs.org/isa/
Other projects we are or were involved in
Wikipedia Primary School at SUPSI (University)
Wikipedia Primary School was a research project. Its focus was to study how to provide on Wikipedia the information necessary to complete the cycle of primary education in the languages used by the different education systems is a project allowing students, families and teachers to find on Wikipedia the documentation necessary to obtain the primary school qualification in their country, in their language.
Ideas outlined here : Talk:Wiki_In_Africa#Proposed_activities. Feel free to make new suggestions :)
The two contacts are:
- Wiki in Africa website
- Wiki in Africa on Twitter
- Wiki in Africa on Facebook
- Wiki in Africa on YouTube
Wikimedia Affiliate Status
We approached the Affiliate Committee to be recognized as a UserGroup a few months ago. Status is under discussion
- Anthere (talk)
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