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Submissions/A mutually beneficial partnership : Wikipedia and Africa

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission

A mutually beneficial partnership : Wikipedia and Africa

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)


Author of the submission

Isla Haddow in collaboration with Francis Awinda and Iolanda Pensa

E-mail address



Islahaddow (talk) 03:59, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Country of origin

South Africa, Kenya, Italy

Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

Isla Haddow, Africa Centre, South Africa; Francis Awinda, Africa Centre, South Africa/Kenya; Iolanda Pensa, lettera27 Foundation, Wikimedia Italia, Italy.

Personal homepage or blog


Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

WikiAfrica has been working towards the creation of 30 000 articles on Wikipedia by the end of 2012. An international collaborative project between Africa Centre and Lettera27, and an ever-increasing number of content partners, WikiAfrica’s main aim is to add quality African content to Wikipedia.

Acknowledged as an area of focus by the WikiMedia Foundation in their 2011 Strategic Plan, the history of Wikipedia on the African continent is fraught with challenges, misunderstandings, misconceptions, and inactivity.

A bubble map of the global distribution of English Wikipedia edits on 10th May 2011 (view full sequence here).

For a number of reasons, Africa is the least covered and supported collective of cultures, histories, ideas and languages on Wikipedia. It also has the fewest contributors per capita of any other territory. As more people across the Continent access the internet using mobile technology (500 million phones in March 2011[1]), there is an imperative need for Africa’s historic and contemporary reality to be truthfully represented on the world’s most accessible encyclopaedia. And for a shift in how people from Africa think about and contribute to Wikipedia.

The WikiAfrica project applies a multi-pronged approach to reaching its goals. It has approached archives and cultural institutions to become contributing partners; it has created the African Incubator (a supportive entry point for all languages contributors), it is planning Wiki Loves Monuments campaigns in several countries using different methods; it collaborates on training sessions and is creating vital training tools; and is continually issuing challenges to bloggers, journalists, academics and experts across the Continent.

As the project rolls out, many myths have been debunked and much has been learnt, specifically about patterns of behaviour in pockets of contributors across the continent; the integration and power of social media and mobile access to the internet; the need for a culture of support and collective responsibility; and the necessity to inform and revolutionise attitudes towards Wikipedia. The presentation at Wikimania would share the challenges, lessons and, often unexpected, solutions and results of this on-going project.

  • GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums)
Length of presentation/talk

15 minutes

Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?


Slides or further information (optional)
Special request as to time of presentations


  1. http://www.mobilemonday.net/reports/MobileAfrica_2011.pdf

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with four tildes. (~~~~).

  1. --Iopensa (talk) 10:04, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. --Guaka (talk) 22:54, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. --Awinda (talk) 09:50, 20 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. HstryQT (talk) 16:52, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Kippelboy (talk) 07:14, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. --Thuvack (talk) 17:05, 21 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. David Shankbone (talk) 17:06, 18 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Dmitri Lytov (talk) 14:38, 6 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Sannita (talk) 12:10, 4 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  10. A12n (talk) 03:04, 9 July 2012 (UTC) (very interested but scheduled to be at a parallel session at this time)[reply]
  11. Add your username here.