One of my former colleagues e-mailed me an article from the Zimbabwean The Standard about the Zimbabwean politicians' use of social media: 'A new breed of techno-savvy politicians'.
An extract from the article goes:
Renowned Zimbabwean blogger, Chris Kabwato reckons that social networking is a great avenue for politicians, considering the number of people who have access to the internet.
“They are an educated lower to middle class urban population,” he said of the demographics of people who have access to the internet.
“This is a group who influence the main ideas in society.”
Read on here.
The article is sort of a Zimbabwean pendant to Jiang Alipo's article on 22 September 2010 for the Tanzanian Daily News ‘Jakaya Kikwete is now following you on Twitter’ and Elsie Eyakuze's blog post Politicians and New Media from August 31 2010.
The two articles and the blog post are all analysing the growing phenomenon where politicians in African countries start communicating via social media. A trend which in Tanzania's case was boosted during the recent elections in October 2010, which Ndesanjo Macha at Global Voices also picked up on here.
In Denmark there is a growing advertising industry specialising in advising politicians etc. on using social media strategically - and it is rare to find a Danish politician operate social media hands-on him- or herself.
The interesting part to me is, that this is a phenomenon in the making. And something - which in my experience - so far has worked rather autonomously, and in many cases based on the individual politician's access to and interest in social media.
First, after practising the use of social media for a while the politician might experience a whole new way of communicating with the people who legitimises his/her position. (Or as Elsie at The Mikocheni Report in her blog post linked to above said with a twist of irony 'which gives a thin veneer of warmth to their interactions with thousands of ‘friends’ all over the country'.)
But, we know too little of those experiences yet. And in regard of Africa it is difficult to get clear or specific statistics or data, on i.e. Internet users, to make conclusions, which as seen in the articles linked to above also tend to differ depending on who you ask.