Dakar : Innovation in the media is going mobile (and becoming more female?)

Dakar : Innovation in the media is going mobile (and becoming more female?)

June 10, 2015

Five teams of journalists and developers took part in a friendly competition at a hackathon (media innovation marathon) in Dakar (Senegal) from 22 to 24 May 2015.

As part of the Innovate Africa project launched by CFI and Code for Africa, these teams took up the challenge of devising new ways in which to gather, process and publicise information in the era of the internet and mobile telephones.

Have no doubt - although very few women registered to take part in the digital innovation events, it was they who made all the difference. Just as in Abijan, it was once again a project presented by a woman that won the Dakar "media innovation marathon" award. Christine Traoré presented the work of a team whose line-up included two web developers.

Entitled " Minute actu", the app devised by the trio targets a young public composed of "Afropolitains" with access to the internet and who are moving away from the traditional media, offering them a selection of sport and cultural information in short video format lasting a maximum of one minute. The app also offers internet users the possibility to broadcast - live - the video stream captured on their phones. The aim is, in particular, to enable them to give a video commentary on the events on film.

Throughout that late May weekend, attendees at the "media innovation marathon" tirelessly re-worked their initial ideas presented on the Friday evening. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, in the calm of Dakar's French-speaking digital campus, headquarters of the AUF (French-speaking University Agency), each team sought the best way in which to present their ideas and to enhance them with the encouragement of their mentors (Cheikh Fall, Samba Dialimpa Badji, Antoine Laurent and Philippe Couve).

Towards the end, on Sunday, the teams were under palpable pressure ahead of the presentation of their project or prototype to the panel of judges, which was composed of experts who had also acted as the participants' mentors over the course of the weekend as a whole:

The winners were chosen in accordance with 4 criteria characteristic of the Innovate Africa programme:

  • Usefulness - Is the product/service genuinely useful?
  • Design - Is the product/service user-friendly?
  • Originality - Is the product/service unique and/or innovative?
  • Quality - Does the product/service improve the quality of information available to the target-public?

The honours list

1st : Minute actu

Sport and culture video news app offering videos of under a minute and the possibility of live broadcasting of video content from a personal smartphone.

2nd : Je donne mon avis

On line service targeting users working for the authorities and public services with a view to evaluating the quality of services on offer and allowing the improvement of services provided for citizens.

3nd : Niatala

The name of this project, presented by a team composed mainly of foreign students studying in Dakar, alludes to an expression meaning "How much is it ?", in wolof. The app will enable the compilation and ranking of prices for basic produce to be covered by students' budgets.

4th : ILE (Informer sur la liberté d'expression)
Presented by a team originating principally from the NGO Article 19, this project aims to provide detailed monitoring of international commitments on the part of governments in West Africa in the area of freedom of expression, with a view to those undertakings being reflected in national legislation.

5th : PAPA (Pour apprendre par les arts)
An ongoing website project that aims to collect and present the best African children's stories - for children and parents alike. The website would be accessible to internet users who would be able to upload their own stories.

One of the features common to the first three projects is their focus on those with mobile phones. This is undoubtedly one of the primary characteristics of the internet in Africa: in the main, access is via a mobile device. This was highlighted by the number of participants attending over the course of the conference on innovation in the media organised by CFI and Code for Africa on Friday, 21 May, shortly before the hackathon kicked off.

On the half-day programme

  • 'Evolution of ITC usage in Senegal' , with Abdoulaye Kanté, associate director of Link4dev, a specialist ICT4DEV consultancy;
  • 'Innovation in the Senegalese media' , a round-table session with Cheikh Fall, GFM Group digital manager, Samba Dialimpa Badji, a former BBC journalist and now Media and Communications Manager with Save the Children International/WCA, Ibrahima Lissa Faye, founder of the PressAfrik website and president of the online press editors and professionals association;
  • 'Evolution in journalism training' , with Pr Eugénie Aw-Ndiaye, former CESTI director, journalism lecturer;
  • 'Editorial teams and new trades' , a round-table session led by Antoine Laurent, Code for Africa, with Abdoulaye Kanté, Link4dev associate director, specialist ICT4DEV consultancy, Sadibou SOW, founder of the AfriqueITNews.com
  • 'Telephony operators - partners or competitors? ', a round-table session led by Antoine Laurent, Code for Africa, with Cheikh Tidiane Diop, innovative services and projects departmental lead at Sonatel-Orange , Samba Sene, founder of the Wiss Africa consultancy and former director of Orange's Technocentre Afrique;
  • 'Regulation of tomorrow's media' , with Charles Vieira Sanches, programme manager at the NGO Article 19, for Senegal and West Africa;
  • 'Conclusions', with Omar Cissé, director-general of the Teranga Capital investment fund.

The next innovation marathons involving the media will be taking place simultaneously at Douala (Cameroon) and Antananarivo (Madagascar) from 19 to 21 June 2015.

(Photos: Cheikh Fall and Philippe Couve)

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