Armando Conte interviews Simon Kolawole, a Mo Ibrahim Leadership Development Fellow at the Centre of African Studies, SOAS. Mr Kolawole is also the editor of one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers, This Day. In 2008 the Financial Times nominated him as one of African’ s leaders of the future.
Mr Kolawole research focuses on the concept of New Media and Participatory Governance in Africa. Conte asks him about the major challenges within the democratisation process as well as the New Media in the Africa continent.
Kolawole is a firm believer that the New Media such as mobile phones, the Internet (including social online networks such Facebook and Youtube) and blogs have had an enormous impact in empowering citizens of all backgrounds and in mobilizing civil society in Africa. Although access to the internet and mobile phones can still be limited, the number of users in the last five years has increased at very rapid rate.
Conte enquires on how quality control might be an issue in the field of new media, nevertheless, Kolawole sustains that actually the new media increases citizens’ responsibility and stimulates people to contribute constructively.
Moreover, as the political elite in Africa usually own most of the means of communication, people feel that the new media represents an authentic and democratic tool that enables civil society to mobilise, share information and control the traditional media.