“Can we link up online?” and “What’s your handle?” are questions we get one too many times.
The advent of social media not only revolutionized access to information, but also created platforms for self-expression by users. In today’s world, half a day off social media means missing out on real-time updates, and having to play catch up. Twitter is always ablaze and WhatsApp has become a staple for households especially in Kenya. The Visual Capitalist recently shared analytics on an internet minute: 481,000 tweets sent, 38M messages on WhatsApp, 3.7M queries searches on Google, and $862,823 spent online, not to mention Netflixing fans and Instagram scrolls. What’s more, the future is predicted to have higher projections. No doubt, social media remains a fundamental tool for product outreach in every sector and community.
Kenya, a developing and young nation with a median age of 19 grapples with a myriad of governance challenges. Top on the list of them all are mismanagement of public funds and poor leadership that have robbed a majority of young people, opportunities to make true their dreams. In identifying possible solutions to these challenges, citizen responsibility is key in reclaiming the country’s resources and opportunities. The youth, who form over 60% of the population have a key role in ensuring effective management of public resources, through the available avenues. Digital advocacy is one of the tools with the potential to not only put public officers to account but also enhance citizen participation in governance processes.
So how can we leverage on these platforms to build impact around good governance? At ELF, we firmly believe that young people have all it takes to harness the power of social media and transform their communities. We can drive social campaigns to empower others, eradicate drug abuse, call out ineffective leaders, share and teach best practices, market youth skills, put an end to impunity and inspire action. The impact of digital advocacy efforts as proved by previous campaigns such as #FeesMustFall, #MyDressMyChoice, #SomeoneTellCNN cannot be ignored. The revolutionary Arab Spring in 2010-2012 in which Middle East countries successfully opposed oppressive government regimes, largely owes its success to social media.
The ‘axeleretaz’ initiative is a game changer; an enabler of progress. 10 youth drawn from Makueni, Nairobi, Kakamega, Mombasa, and Nakuru are part of the first phase to be inducted through digital advocacy. They are community advocates in the areas of budget processes, reproductive health, active youth participation in political processes, mobile journalism and civic engagement.
The team is on a mission to not only highlight governance gaps as experienced in their communities, but also contribute to their solutions. Through research and consultations with stakeholders, the axeleretaz will share community stories of best practices on citizen responsibility; policy processes and governance.
We trust that you are taking note of the governance gaps in your community, and while at it, you and your peers are working on ways of solving the challenges to achieve the change you desire. Join the Axeleretaz Movement (@axeleretaz) in highlighting the same online and together, let us be the voice and accelerators of the change we so much need.
Programmes Officer, Governance