Contributors of the #AfricaBlogging platform gathered in a three-day annual conference in Addis-Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. The sessions held from November 10 to 13, 2019, brought together about fifteen French and English-speaking bloggers from Africa under the stewardship of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s media program for Sub-Saharan Africa, which supports the network.
#AfricaBlogging is an online platform featuring a plurality of voices and views supporting democratic culture and debate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 2015 in Johannesburg, “its members believe that blogs play a major role in providing information and diversity of opinion in Africa and they are committed to encouraging open debate on matters not adequately covered by traditional media.”
The political evolution of the blogging landscape in Ethiopia with the edifying career of blogger Befeqadu Hailu and the Zone 9 collective; the use of new media trends; state of the press in Ethiopia are just some of the themes up for discussions.
Two panels focused on development policies in African regions, including West Africa with the case of Côte d’Ivoire, as well as East Africa with Kenya, and Zimbabwe for Southern Africa.
Two inspiring visits challenged the participants. The visit to the museum, the living memory of the cruel Ethiopian genocide, and the visit to the former prison of Maekelawi, theater of multiple tortures and degrading treatment inflicted upon the detainees. Blogger Befeqadu Hailu was jailed there several times before being recently released with the appointment of the new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is also the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, creating hope with regard to the exercise of freedom of the press, and freedom of expression.
This annual conference was also the occasion of a mini status report for #AfricaBlogging. The positives, negatives, and untapped opportunities.
A new team of editors was elected to steer the network to its next level. Daniel Ominde from Kenya will lead the editorial board, with the other editors being Mariam Sorelle from Côte d’Ivoire, in charge of the French section, and Blessing Vava from Zimbabwe. Their primary role will be helping the bloggers to produce quality content for curation on the platform.
The 2019 meeting of #AfricaBlogging brought together bloggers from Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Malawi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda and Togo.