In response to last week’s post about Facebook’s usage in Africa doubling every 7 months, Victor van R, a Dutch ICT4D researcher asked the following pertinent question: Is there any development impact of FB? I immediately thought of at least 3 development impacts we can expect from Facebook’s amazingly fast adoption rate.
As I’ve pointed out before, Facebook is driving ICT adoption in Africa by making technology a primary means of communication – for work, pleasure, or politics. All the chatter about Facebook accounts is driving new customers to invest in smartphones for Facebook 0 or computers and Internet connectivity for the real deal. “I need to get Facebook,” is becoming a common refrain at retail technology stores of all types.
Facebook is driving both ICT and actual language literacy. By having a relevant draw for people to connect, FB is the carrot which has everyone from children to grandparents learning new digital tools. An in schools, there are at least 4 reasons why Facebook is an educational tool: language development, interpersonal skills, group collaboration, and ICT skills.
Physical logistics in Africa is a challenge we all know and face daily. Not so much online. On FB, you can declare your candidacy and reach over a million countrymen without even leaving your house. Soon enough, I expect to see civil society organizations in sub-Sahara Africa learning from North Africa’s revolutions to plan their own regime changes – governments already have.