Zambia bloggers have formed a network called the Zambian Bloggers Network with the help of HIVOS. Announcing the formation of the network on The Zambian website, Brenda Zulu wrote:
Zambian Bloggers with the help of HIVOS are setting up a BLOG Ring for the Zambian Blogosphere to help in the generation of local content. We hope to work virtually and also meet in person during the monthly meetings to network on many issues. We hope to generate funds through micro payments, doing some relevant jobs to content creation and management and also through adverts. We still welcome grants, any donations and sponsorships to cover a lot of costs including high internet costs.
Zambian Bloggers hope to redress some of the inequities in the traditional media by leveraging the power of citizens’ media. We believe in freedom of expression and hope to focus our attention on the most interesting issues around Zambia by linking to social media, blogs, photos, podcasts, video and other forms of grassroots citizens’ media.
It is hoped that with the BLOG RING, Zambian Bloggers Network can grow to be consistent in it’s news coverage and regular in blogging and also become visible to Zambians and the world over. To critically reflect on the Zambian society issues, the bloggers hope to enlarge spaces of expression. It is hoped that bloggers may receive appropriate training in all forms of blogging and web 2.0 applications.
This is a community of Zambian Bloggers who are to bring reports from blogs and citizen media, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in mainstream media.
We hope this space will enlarge spaces of expression for bloggers to critically reflect on the Zambian society.
The platform hopes to provide bloggers with capacity building in WEB 2.0 applications and introduction to new media.
Florence Gichoya was one of the participants at the network´s first meeting in Lusaka. She wrote:
Most of the bloggers are journalists interested in new media, they blog about health, politics, gender, environment etc. There are also two photo bloggers and a cartoonist.
What I gathered from the meeting was that there is a gap in Zambia in areas of podcasting and video blogging.
The rate of blogging in Zambia has also been very low. And the main objective for the network is to strengthen the Zambian blogosphere. Brenda emphasises that as bloggers “we are stronger together”. There are many voices that are not heard in the mainstream media therefore the bloggers give those issue a voice.
During the strategy meeting members decided to create a blog ring and blog collectively on contentious issues for instance, gender based violence, homosexuality, abortion and early marriages. They also agreed to have more online interactions on blogs, dgroup and other social networks.
The network plans to start mentoring and training programs:
What’s the future?
The future projects that they came up with were: They plan to have more mentorship programs for the upcoming bloggers. Also training on new media is imperative for every blogger in order to ensure more readers access their articles. Impart skills on how to make money through blogging. Training on web page designing and create general awareness on blogging. Creation of more Zambian content and to set the agenda for Zambia on issues affecting the citizens e.g. water, road safety, HIV and AIDS and gender development.
Writing about the state of Zambian blogosphere in 2010, Zambian Economist observed:
A strange thing has happened in the Zambian blogosphere. Rather than grow, it appears to have shrunk in recent times. In the early days of this blog we saw all kinds of other Zambian blogs popping up. Today very few Zambians blogs are update or maintained. Many people discovered that starting a blog is quick and easy. Few realise how difficult it is to maintain one. This incidentally is not a Zambian phenomenon. Today, millions of blog start-ups still exist on the web, but much of the blogosphere is beginning to look like a graveyard. Huge gaps in posts posted and the phrases “Sorry I haven’t posted lately” is the first line of many a front-page post.
The state of Zambian blogosphere looked promising in 2007:
The Zambian blogsphere is growing. Two years ago one would struggle to find a regularly updated blog covering any meaningful issues. I am happy to report that is now changing. New blogs are being created at pace faster than I can count. And the good news is that what were personal entries are now being transformed into meaningful blogs that seek to encourage dialogue and trading of ideas.
On 12 July, 2012 Global Voices published an interview between Soneka Kamuhuza and Brenda Zulu about the state of Zambian blogosphere. When asked about the current attitude towards blogging in Zambia, Brenda noted:
Well there is a number of Zambian bloggers but most of them live in the Diaspora. Many Zambians living in the Diaspora blog frequently than Zambians living at home. This is also associated with issue of access to the internet for Zambians at home. Many Zambians can now access internet on their mobile phone where they can mostly do micro-blogging. Otherwise, some even connect their mobile phones to their computers if they would like to do some blogging. Others access the internet from internet cafes, libraries, use mobile dongles, rabbits, wifi, etc. Internet access in Zambia is not cheap even with the coming of optic fibre networks. As one moves away from the city to rural areas access to the internet doubles while losing mobile networks.
Zambians living at home are not prolific bloggers. There are many Zambian blogs online but most of them are dead blogs as they are not updated frequently. Many Zambians are good at micro-blogging and the use of Facebook. Zambians use Facebook more than any other social media platform. Very few Zambians are on Twitter and among the few that have Twitter accounts very few use their accounts. Many claim that they don’t know how to use Twitter.
Zambian Bloggers Network can also be found on Facebook.