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Guinea: The First Blogcamp in Conakry

The first Guinean blogcamp took place on February 2nd at the Press House in Coléah, a suburb of Conakry. In a nation striving for a national dialogue after tumultuous years of political strife, ICT might play an important role in building consensus.

“Les choses avancent très bien du côté de la Maison de la Presse. Le mercredi 02 février, comme prévu, c’était la première journée de l’Initiation au blogging pour l’émergence de médias citoyens en Guinée avec pour slogan : « Bloguons Ensemble ». Les dix personnes qui forment le premier groupe étaient présentes, très curieuses et hyper motivées.”

“Everything was progressing well from the Press House. As planned, Wednesday February 2nd was the first day of the blogging initiative for the emergence of citizen media in Guinea with this as a slogan: “Let's blog together [Fr]“. The first group consisted of ten people; they were all there, very curious and extremely motivated.”

It's in those words that @guinee50 expressed his joy for this first Guinean blog camp on February 2nd.

Blogcamp Conakry via Guinee50

Mr. Fode Sanikayi Kouyaté is the student who originated the initiative. Kouyaté had to leave his country when the military used violence on a crowd protesting against Kaki's power on 28 September 2009 in Conakry. He was in Mali where he met the blogger and online translator for GV, Boukary Konaté. Konaté is also the founder of the blog Fakosan. Driven by the love of cyber-activism, Fode had tried many times in vain to create a Guinean blogging community. On 1 March 2010 he had expressed [Fr] his disappointment with the lack of success of his efforts:

“On ne peut ignorer ou sous-estimer aujourd’hui, le rôle que les blogs peuvent jouer dans le développement socio-politique de notre pays… “

“We can't ignore or underestimate the potential that blogs have nowadays and the role that they may play in the socio-political development of our country….”

He continued his efforts by establishing a significant network of 1160 friends on his personal blog guinee50.blogspot.com [Fr] and 1159 on Facebook. Kouyaté is an “observer” of France24 [Fr] and created the blog nonloin.mondoblog.org [Fr] on a blog platform invented by Philippe Couve, Cédric Kalonji and Ziad Maalouf from Radio France Internationale.

Equipped with all these tools to share with the blogosphere, Kouyaté actively participated in detailing Guinean's daily life. During the presidential elections in June and November 2010, he created a system through which the voters could ask the candidates questions. He explains the program, named “voters testers” [Fr]:

« Ce sont ces milliers d’internautes guinéens qui veulent que lors de l’élection présidentielle, leur voix serve l’instauration d’une véritable démocratie dans notre pays et qui, avant tout, veulent savoir pour quel candidat voter et pourquoi. »

“These are millions of internet users that want their voices to be heard during the presidential elections. They want to contribute to the establishment of a true democracy in our country and above all they want to know who to vote for and why.”

In Guinea, the lack of infrastructure and the inability for youth to express themselves in a written form is slowing down the blogosphere's development. The active blogs are usually created by Guineans living abroad and look more like online newspapers than personal blogs.

At the end of this first blogcamp, ten bloggers started their own blog. See the list below the interview.

Before the beginning of the next workshop planned for February 18th, I asked him [Kouyaté] a few questions online:

The first blogcamp has just finished, and here you are already planning the second. What are your plans?

First of all, I would like to say that I am very satisfied with the outcome of these first few days of the workshop. My plan is to continue such initiatives that teach young people the use of blogs in order to be heard in Guinea and beyond our borders.

What is the situation like in Guinea as far as internet access? What are the difficulties encountered in the cities that you have visited?

As I said in my posts [Fr], internet access is almost impossible in many cities of the country mainly because of the lack of electricity even though that is not the only reason. Where there is electricity, as in Siguiri, it's the internet provider that is failing. However, in other cities such as Dabola you can get the same bandwidth as Conakry and that's because either there is a steady supply of electricity or there are generators.

The youths of Conakry are then favored compared to those in other cities?

Of course, it is easier for the young people in Conakry to go to internet cafes than those living in other cities. It is now a matter of means for us to organize these blogcamps throughout all the country. By targeting the cities with electricity and internet access, we could start a dynamic blogosphere in all four regions of Guinea. We shouldn't wait any longer.

What are the problems you have encountered during the formation cycle?

The majority of new bloggers don't use the internet except for checking their email. We only have five computers for ten people and the Press House couldn't give us anymore so as not to deprive the journalists who come here to work.

Do you have anything else to add for our readers?

To conclude, I would like to encourage all the new bloggers to continue with the same motivation and curiosity. I also advise them to be active by regularly publishing articles in all the subjects that interest them.

To the readers and to you, I thank you for your interest in the Guinean blogosphere.

Here the list of the new bloggers [Fr- all links]:

Let us be conscious http://guineereveil.blogspot.com
Wishes of a rallying child http://rassembleuractif.blogspot.com
Gnakry’s Spirit http://gnakryspirit.blogspot.com

Open Guinea http://guineeouverte.blogspot.com
Guinea's culture, a new walk http://tameywo.blogspot.com
The impact of an enclave http://sanahka.blogspot.com
It needs to change in Guinea http://dialloboulli.blogspot.com
The half fulfilled dream http://j-actifs.blogspot.com
A space to say it all http://rienechappe.blogspot.com
My Guinea cries http://boncitoyen.blogspot.com

They have all published at least one post.

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