JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 30 July 2004
Soul Beat Africa is looking for information about how individuals and organisations are using communication for change and development in Africa. Across the continent, countless activities are being undertaken to address diverse social issues through communication. Some seek to address the digital divide, others to inform and educate on issues such as HIV/AIDS,rights, economic development, or good agricultural practices. In Mali, a radio presenter browses the internet sharing what is found with listeners who have largely never seen a computer before. In Tanzania, farmers are receiving market information through a combination of internet and cellphone text messages. School-based telecentres are helping to connect learners across Africa and the world to help them to experience beyond the classroom. In many countries in Africa, women are gaining knowledge and empowering themselves through learning and gaining access to new technologies. There are a multitude of radio programmes, multi-media centres, and web-portals, as well as a wealth of research and materials to help guide and evaluate these interventions.
There is much to be gained by increasing information sharing amongst these projects. The evaluation and findings from one programme can help to guide the next. Good ideas can be adapted to suit a local context, and materials and scripts can be shared.
The internet of course offers an opportunity to collect and share this information, and that is exactly what Soul Beat Africa is aiming to do. Through the Soul Beat web portal and bi-monthly e-magazine, and people and organisations are sharing information and connecting with each other.
Experiences in developing radio programmes, edutainment, drama, mass media campaigns, using information technology and a diverse range of communication programmes and publications are summarised, always with contact information, helping to connect communicators across the continent.
Soul Beat Africa is a collaboration between the Communication Initiative (CI), which shares similar information globally, and Soul City, a health communication organisation based in South Africa, and is being implemented by SANGONeT, APC member in South Africa. SANGONeT’s track record of providing ICT services to the civil society of Southern Africa made it the ideal implementing partner for Soul Beat Africa, chosen through a highly competitive tender process to identify a local host. "SANGONeT strives to be a facilitator in the effective and empowering use of ICT tools by development and social justice actors in Southern Africa" says David Barnard, Executive Director of SANGONeT. "The Soul Beat Africa project is helping to connect communicators through this use of ICT and technology. By sharing information, lessons learned, strategic thinking and opportunities via the website and e-newsletter, we strengthen the field of development communication across the continent."
Soul Beat Africa adds to SANGONeT’s wide-ranging information services projects that support civil society. SANGONeT’s standing and existing networks and relationships support the Soul Beat process as the team develops website content and strategies to support development communication.