The Power of Twitter in Africa: Sudan, Ivory Coast, Tunisia & Nigeria

“The Revolution Will be Tweeted.” – One of today’s tweets after what’s been a very busy week in Africa. #Sudan #Nigeria #Ivory Coast #Tunisia

The power of Twitter is simply amazing when you look at what’s happened this week in Africa. A remarkable series of change & growth across the continent, led by the people…and their tweets.

You can say that the second week of 2011 was the people’s week for participation and protest in Africa. Elections and referendums. Protests and coups.

Is Africa facing its next moment of change? Where the youth bulge and generational politics are finally shifting course?

In Sudan, a long awaited vote for freedom is coming to a close and a new chapter of nationbuilding in the South is to begin. For days on end, tweets from resettled Diaspora, Sudanese and international organizations, and local and international media revealed a staggering level of high expectations for the South’s future. Post-referendum peace with the North and development was the greatest concern on everyone’s mind as cautious optimism started to sink the last couple of days.

In Cote D’Ivoire, the election battle between incumbent Gbago and Outtara became deadly as chaos unfolded throughout the country. Reports of targeting and killing of Outtara’s supporters and attacks on the UN came minute by minute from media and individuals on the ground.

In Nigeria, election results put incumbent Goodluck Jonathan as the winner. But the steady Twitter chatter reveals a healthy dose of online criticism, debate and reaction from the opposition parties.

Finally, the biggest news of the day is in Tunisia, where weeks of rioting and protest against high unemployment and rising food prices led to a government overthow today. Twitter is abuzz with updates from the African, Arab and Muslim world.

The most interesting thing to note about today’s news isn’t the speed and amount of information that came out through social media, but the glacial pace of the traditional media outlets reporting on Twitter. Aside from the wire reporting, (I happen to like Reuters and Allafrica.com) it took nearly three hours after news broke out of President Ben Ali’s departure for the mainstream newspapers like The New York Times to release its story and show up on Twitter. Not good. Gotta move faster. Because social media and the people are way ahead of you.

And the revolution will be tweeted.

If you’d like to follow more about these developments on Twitter, here’s a list of my favorite Africa Tweeps, who are sending the latest from some or all of these countries. (Note: some of these tweeps are in fact journalists and reporters! They understand and utilize social media the way more western media should!)

Recommended Twitter Users to Follow for the Latest on Africa:
@sahelblog
@africahand
@alunmcdonald
@kenyanpundit
@texasinafrica
@dana_hughes
@malonebarry
@madayo
@aaronmg
@baldaufji
@edpomfret
@slowfalling
@parrav

Africa News Sources:
@allafrica
@irinnews
@wsjafrica
@voaafrica
@africagoodnews
@ch16org

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About Sahafrica

I think about the Horn of Africa all day - Somalia Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, you name it. Follow me for news, travel logs, blog posts & random thoughts & rants.
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