Encouraging Political Participation in Africa The Potential of Social Media Platforms

"The ‘Arab Spring’ developments have led to debate as to whether an ‘African Spring’ facilitated through the use of social-media-based tools is possible. This report argues that social media have the potential to facilitate the active citizen political engagement required to bring about political change in Africa. This paper is divided into three main sections. The first one defines the two main concepts of the study, namely social media and political participation. The second attempts to explicate both the actual and potential roles of social media in relation to political participation. The final section considers the difficult socio economic and often repressive contexts within which social media platforms are being adopted. The paper also considers the implications of government interventions and strategies such as censorship on citizen political participation, drawing on several case studies."