Learner’s Submission: Social Media – Its Use and Importance in Nigerian Government

21/10/2013

Preamble:

There are different conceptions of social media. As a result, definition of social media depends on the users, ICT experts and writers. Sweetser and Lariscy gave a pragmatic definition of social media, as a “read-write Web, where the online audience moves beyond passive viewing of Web content to actually contributing to the content.” According to them, “the audience-initiated content contributions include interactivity, the ability to tailor a site’s presentation on the individual level, and opportunities for the audience to actually create or contribute content on the site.” However, amid different conceptions of social media, one thing that is sacrosanct is the idea that social media is based on user-generated participation. By this, social media enables user-to-user interaction; a trait that distinguishes social media from a traditional media. Given the diverse forms of social media, Kaplan and Haenlein have classified social media into six separate categories such as: collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia); blogs and micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter); content communities (e.g. YouTube); social networking sites (e.g. Facebook); virtual game worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft); and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life).

Usage:

Use of social media in Nigeria is progressively increasing. Social media has become a driving force in political, economic, and socio-cultural issues in Nigeria, particularly among the youth and middle aged, who use social media as a tool to voice their opinions and take part in nation building. Facebook and Twitter are two primary channels that have been adopted by Nigerian government to socialize and connect with the people. For example, the current President, since 2011 has been operating a facebook page where he talks about his administration’s transformation agenda and achievements with the community of social media users within and outside Nigeria. To his credit, with the opening of a Facebook account in 2011, he became the first president to reach out to the community of internet users in Nigeria through social media. He has a designated social media public relation team, who are on government’s payroll and who orate about his achievements and defend tooth and nail his limitations.

As Nigerian online community- with an estimated 48 million internet users (6.6 million Facebook users and large number of Twitter users)- increases more and more, various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies have tapped into the opportunities provided by social media to network, share knowledge and receive feedbacks, and promote their strategic initiatives, but most importantly keep Nigerians informed. For example, the presence of the National Bureau of Statistics is conspicuous on Facebook and Twitter as the Bureau is active in its release of updates on macroeconomic indicators, and reports on the economy.

However, Nigerian government has robustly synergized the two primary channels of social media I have identified previously with the traditional media, particularly the government owned media. For example, virtually all government owned and private owned traditional media have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and they have a common thread running in their operational fabrics in terms of their use of i-reporters- individuals without professional know-how in journalism, but with the capability of using their wits in the use of social media tools to gather information (e.g. photos, videos, etc) about things happening around them and share such information through traditional media.

Importance:

  • Given the continual rise of social media channels, which has triggered off a rise in the network of internet users in Nigeria, social media deepens dissection of audience or recipients in terms of widening of horizon of coverage and selection of information that are in parallel with the penchant of individuals. In this sense, social media enables users to understand and discuss issues and connect with other people who share similar ideas. This creates individuals with interests on specific issues to connect, hence addressing different issues from different standpoints.
  • Social media emasculates the gate-keeping role of traditional media. Given the gate-keeping role of the traditional media, substances of public discourse are determined on the altar of prerogative of the traditional media where few news media producers determine what information the public should receive. With the emergence of social media, people have the platform to communicate with their representatives at the various arms of government.
  • As a corollary to the above, social media in a similar vein reduces over dependence on press releases as media for current news content or flow of information to the public. Through social media people read breaking news and follow events as they happen.
  • Social media serves as a valuable tool for gathering information and disseminating such information, networking, knowledge sharing and entertainment. In this sense, given the increasing tempo of internet users in Nigeria, social media has emerged as a new stimulant in political, economic and socio-cultural landscape, hence dominating channels of public discourse.

Social media as an enabler of accountability widens the frontlines of good governance. By providing a platform where people discuss topical issues- issues as transparency and accountability have become exigent and widely discussed in Nigeria- people report abuse of office by public office holders and other issues demanding government attention, hence connecting people with one another and empowering them to hold public office holders accountable. ” – Chukwuma Julius Okonkwo – Abuja, Nigeria


Learner’s Submission: Case Study of Decentralization in Maharashtra, India

13/08/2013

Decentralization is the most revolutionary development in India because behind it are all the forces when released will change the structure of the country – Jawaharlal Nehru, Former Indian Prime Minister. This was the quote said my Indian Prime Minister while he introduced the Indian Parliament with the 73rd and 74th amendment of Indian Constitution in 1960 which marked as a pioneer stage of decentralization in India. Today has over 2.5 lakhs Panchayats in which there are over 32 lakhs of Grass-root leaders elected by the people of that village and out of it 12 lakhs are women. It is a mile stone of India and an excellent vehicle to drive decentralization at a very basic level. The main reason of decentralization is to give chance to people to govern themselves because consistent progress is what matters. Power to rule should not lie upwards with central officer but downwards with local authorities. Quantity of GDP generated is less important that quality of GDP.

Decentralization in Maharashtra started in 1961 and today there are 28,000 Gram panchayats, 350 Panchayat Samitis and 33 Zilla Parishads. But instead of this there were quarrels continuously going on in Maharashtra which we resulting in social tensions and hence the police complaints were increasing at a rapid pace ultimately creating a huge pile of court cases; Considering the huge pendency of cases in various Courts and the inevitable delays in delivering judgments, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the need of the hour. In fact this was the reason for the formation of Loknyayalas and Fast Track Courts. Maharashtra Government made a plan called as Dispute-free village scheme also called as (Tanta Mukti Gaon Mohim).According to this Plan, a village with most number of points gained after solving the cases at village level were awarded with cash prizes hence disputes taking place within families or due to small reasons were not introduced in court and golden mean was found out by the Gram Panchayat (Village Authorities) only. It reduced the Police work to a great extent. The Maharashtra model is likely to be replicated in other developing countries, where logistics and infrastructure of the judicial machinery were weak, Mr. Dighavkar said. He will also spend time with social scientists, reformers and peace makers in various universities and share the model and his experiences with them. Speaking of the achievements of the scheme, he cited figures in Pune district where 790 out of 1,134 villages have become ‘dispute-free’ in the last two and a half years and hence the district received Rs. 19,31,000,00 ($4.4 million), as the prize money from the State government. Since October 2009, 36,294 conflicts at the village-level were resolved and now, 28,084 cases were awaiting resolution, he said.

The salient features of this mission are:

1. Formation of Tanta Mukt Samities at each and every village in the state.
2. Identification of existing disputes, classifying them into criminal, civil, revenue and noting

3. Them down in a register maintained by the Samitis.
4. Preventive schemes and measures to ensure that disputes do not occur.
5. Resolution of existing and new disputes in a democratic, fair and participative manner.

Decentralization is the backbone of democracy because it really proves the meaning of democracy- For the people; by the people.” – Ameya S. Kulkarni – Maharashtra, India


Learner’s Submission: Social Media Channels in India

02/08/2013

“1950s marked the emergence of a new global communication way called as Internet and the first message to be sent by using Internet was from UCLA by Prof.Leonard Kleinrock. Though it was till 1997 the modern kind of social media wasn’t involved and the team who named the modern social media network as ‘Six Degrees’ did it and emerged the new face of social media. As rightly said by JP Rangaswami “Social media offer the government a much better picture of what the citizen looks like. There is a better engagement process between the citizen and government. Social media can create a level of interaction with consultations that just wasn’t possible before.” Social media can also be used for harvesting collective ingenuity of the public in much more efficient and paperless way. Government of India is making tremendous efforts in conveying messages to its citizens with the help of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Ministry of Finance Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ministry-of-Finance-Government-of-India/172154416195975 is able to connect with the citizens of India and is also very much useful in marking the foundation of E-Governance. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under Government of India is the first Ministry to create its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/inbministry and Twitter handle @MIB_India to get connected with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Constant updates relating to many departments of the Government of India are constantly updated on Facebook and tweeted in Twitter so as to let the Citizens of India know the events happening in their country. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently undertook a Digital Internship Program by which they were connecting youths all over India to get connected with various. Many videos regarding India’s progress and cultural diversity and videos of recent events are uploaded on the You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/INBMINISTRY . Currently Ministry of Information and Broadcast is the only ministry to use social media at such a larger prospect. During the conversion of signals from Analog to Digital, Government of India used the tool of social media to efficiently spread the message of how Digital technology is going to be proved very useful in near future through its Facebook page www.facebook.com/DigitalIndiaMIB. And it proved to be quite useful for the Government to eradicate all the doubts and confusions which the Cable Operators all over India were having, only due to efficient use of social media.

The Prime Minister of India Dr.Manmohan Singh is also one of the most followed person on Facebook and the page of Dr.Manmohan Singh is https://www.facebook.com/dr.manmohansingh and he has a follower database of around 3,70,000 and that of Gujarat Chief Minister 25,00,000 likes and his Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/narendramodi and he is the first chief minister of any state who is more popular than  the Prime Minster of the Nation. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat is having heavy follower number and he has1.95 million followers on Twitter and the handle used is @narendramodi  . The Prime Minster of India is widely recognized as Man of Economic Reforms and all the events where Prime Minister of India is going to take part is updated on the Facebook page and also on Twitter. This allow people to hear the speeches given by him in various events and also to read the articles which are published by the Prime Minister’s Office also the events are continuously updated on his twitter handle named as @PMOIndia.

The Planning Commission of  India has also created their won Facebook Page as https://www.facebook.com/PlanComIndia and many activities regarding the activities or publications of the planning commission are updated on the Facebook page. They also invite comments and suggestions regarding India’s future developmental plans and people are overwhelmingly respond to the questions or polls put forth by the planning Commission. Tourism Ministry has created a brand for promoting domestic as well as international tourist to visit different parts of India and the name of the brand is “Incredible India”. The Facebook page which is devoted to promote the brand is https://www.facebook.com/India.IncredibleIndia and it is also continuously updated by uploading images of various scenic beauties of nature and delicious food preparations from all over India like Pani Puri from Bhopal, Rosgulla from Kolkatta, Vada-Pav from Mumbai and Dhokla from Gujarat. For having strong international recognition you need to have strong ties with other nations and that work is carried out by Ministry of External Affairs under rule of Mr. Salman Khurshid who is the current Minster of External Affairs. The Facebook page for Ministry of external affairs is https://www.facebook.com/MEAINDIA . India’s bilateral relations are put forth in front of all the citizens of the world by using this Facebook page. This page also serves as major source of information for students studying in the field of Political Science and International relations in eminent Indian Universities like South Asian University, Jawaharlal Nehru University or Tilak Maharashtra University.

. Even if we talk about Facebook it is estimated that over 10 Crore Indians have opened their Facebook account and are active on it. But we look at the figures of followers even to the Prime Minister of India it’s just 0.37 Million which is way to less than that of Indians having their account on Facebook.” – Ameya S. Kulkarni – Maharashtra, India


Learner’s Submission: Social Media Channels Used by the Government of Botswana

08/07/2013

“Introduction

‘’Social Media refers to internet services and mobile phone applications used for general dissemination, discussion of information in visual, audio, textual or pictorial formats’’.  The information super highway has been manufactured to allow the human race to communicate and interact more effectively and efficiently, using electronic gadgets or gizmos.

The use of Social Media Channels in Botswana is still at an infant stage. The general populace has been using Social Media Channel in significant numbers for the past five to seven years. The use of Social Media Channels by the Botswana Government is recent and considerably limited. The government is however committed to full implementation The National E-Government Strategy 2011-2016 which will apparently integrate the use of Social Media Networks in governance. Currently a few departments within government ministries are using Facebook and Twitter.

His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama is quoted in his foreword to The Working Paper on The National E-Government Strategy 2011-2016 as saying ‘’I will be a regular user of e-Government services. I encourage everyone to join me online.’’ I can therefore confirm to everyone that the president and a few of his ministers are either on Facebook or Twitter.

Why Social Media Channels are Important

Social Media Channels are important since they can be used to gather information from potential beneficiaries of services provided by the governments. Customers of government services are able to provide timely feedback to various service providers within government and even the private sector. Service providers are therefore able to evaluate their processes and come up with effective strategic decisions to overcome their challenges and become more innovateive.

Social Media Channels are also important socio-digital instruments as governments can easily and effectively gather information from potential suppliers. This can help in making it easy for procurement processes to take place.

The government can provide necessary information to potential suppliers. For instance the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) a parastatal organisation in Botswana can advertise and invite companies to bid for government tenders using Social Media Networks. Companies can respond to the invitations using the same media. Through the use of Social Media Networks, the government can easily disseminate information to its citizens. Government policy and announcement of important events and activities can be spread to the general public using various Social Media Channels.

Social Media Channels are important because they can promote participatory decision making processes. Members of the public can just log in to Facebook or any channel and present their issues for public debate. The government can therefore make policy decisions based on common issue raised by citizens through Social Media Channels. As a result of that inclusive decision making will be achieved.

The government can through the use of the Social Media Channels stay up to date and closer to the people. Electronic or digital social interaction reduces the void which exists between the common citizen and the leadership of the country. The government may as such be aware and as well understand the feelings, interests, expectations and aspirations of its people. Relevant and appropriate solutions to people’s problems might be implemented.

The other importance of Social Media Channels is that it create a conducive platform for sharing of knowledge among staff of the public service. This makes it easier for knowledge codification to take place within various organisations of the public service. In other words, Social Media Channels can help transform tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. Social Media can therefore create a value for the government’s intangible assets, more especially the human capital.

Since we live in a complex society, it is necessary to employ Social Media Channels in various aspects of life. When people interact digitally there will be a strong sense of belonging. A highly complex and cosmopolitan society in which we live can definitely be rendered microscopic in form and in substance.

Conclusion

This paper has indicated and confirmed that Social Media Channels are used by the government of Botswana. However the usage of this media is considerably limited and it is still at an infant stage. The paper has also affirmed that Social Media Channels are of fundamental significance, more especially in promoting good governance and improving service delivery within government. So governments and their citizens should adopt and fully utilise Social Media Channel in various spheres of life.” – Mpho Kasoka – Ghanzi, Botswana


Learner’s Submission: “Social Media Channels Used by Bangladesh Government So Far”

30/05/2013

“Nowadays ‘social media’ is a very common term in Bangladesh. Social media is the most popular platform of Bangladeshi tech culture for this third millennium. This culture refers to mobile and web-based technology applications used for the generation and discussion of information in textual, pictorial, audio or video formats. Social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, wikis, social networks, podcasts, pictures, video, social bookmarking, etc. Social media includes blogs, picture-sharing, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, video sharing, etc. It also includes all forms of current and future tools used for digital interactions between people. Social media channels allow people to interact online in a social manner, whether for personal and professional reasons, or for many other purposes.

This context describes the current usage, impacts, benefits and importance of social media channels adopted by the Government of Bangladesh so far.

In Bangladesh current social media tools or social networking sites such as google, yahoo, hotmail, facebook, mySpace, linkedin, blogs and blog publication platforms such as wordpress, discussion forums, micro-blogs such as twitter and yammer, wikis such as wikipedia and wikispaces, video and audio such as youtube, scribd and slideshare, real-time chat and live blogging tools. Social media is becoming an increasingly popular set of channels for Bangladesh to use in their communication and engagement as because they provide an effective means of engaging with audience across different demographics as they are using social media and they are perceived as simple to set up and use. A great deal of data primary or secondary information and analyses can be used to arrive at empirical findings. Facebook and Linked in is the key to establishing an identity and networking across interest groups twitter for interaction, pinterest for image displays, youtube for video versions, etc. Bangladesh may have more than its fair share of adverse publicity but  hardly engage in meaningful and positive image building for the many good things that shape the lives of so many. Social Media provides the opportunity for that good portrayal through the cost-efficient methods and many more.

To promote Bangladeshi business or products or services ‘Social Media Marketing’ method is the smartest way in this age of technology. But in our Bangladesh it’s true that social-media is not available to use for all. After that there is a large and active community is involving with Social Media. A statistics says around 500,000 of total number of people are involved with Internet and approx. 83% of them are using social media. In Bangladesh this social media strategy is not being practiced widely than the other developing countries so far. But we should start right now. We think we should think globally. Many government and non government organizations of Bangladesh have started to use social media for the advertisement and popularity. In fact many of our country’s largest government and non government companies are not using social media widely. But yes of course social media is a very strong tool to reach to the worldwide audience, customers and clients and even to critics within short time and short investment.” – S.M. Muklesur Rahman – Dhaka, Bangladesh


Learner’s Submission: What are the Social Media Used by Your Government, Why are They Important

06/05/2013

“Social media are platforms that connect people and allow them to engage, for example, Facebook, micro-blogs like Twitter, Wikis, Podcasts and Discussion forums. They can allow targeted organization dialogue and sharing. Comments and links may also be shared.

The Zimbabwe government mostly uses interactive websites and Facebook for its agencies. Ministry Of Education Sport and Culture and The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority are examples of government’s arms available on Facebook. Promotion of government information services is augmented by the use of such media. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has been mandated with marketing the country as a tourism destination and their availability on Facebook is instrumental in disseminating issues like cultural, upcoming events, places to visit information to both local and international publics.

Advantages of using social media include the fact that ,they facilitate government agencies interaction directly with their audiences without the encumbrances of going through mainstream media. Agencies do not have to struggle to get coverage, they create it themselves. This gives them greater control of their communications needs. Citizens engagement is also increased.

National emergency messaging is facilitated by social media. The general public is warned of impending natural disasters in time. Necessary precautions are taken to minimize casualties or avoid them altogether.

Social media expand outreach capabilities of branches of government. In places where non-electronic media like flyers and newsletters cannot be conveniently distributed, wikis, podcasts and facebook may be used. Ability to interact with and serve the public has been increased. There are opportunities for everyone to leave a comment, make a suggestion or ask a question and relevant people and or  authority can respond on the Zimbabwe government interactive websites .It is now possible for individuals to look for job openings on these sites. Using social media is faster and convenient for the public in terms of sending and receiving information. In the near future, it is possible that our government will adopt online renewal of passports and licenses.

Interagency and intergovernmental networking sites also promote co-operation across governments. Internal sites establish connections across traditionally geographically dispersed organizations.

Social media respects learning styles of various individuals. Some prefer audio, some video while others like to read.

It is becoming more and more clear that transaction costs of bringing people together to discuss, facilitate and implement policy are approaching zero because of the low costs involved. As such ,it is becoming more and more clear that social media are important in our societies and will continue to expand in usage as greater numbers of people become acquainted with them.” – Betwell Moyo – Gweru, Zimbabwe


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