Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Telling Stories in High Def

I used to hate Macs. It’s true, I thought they were made in hell and sold by Satan. Chance employment with an interactive marketing agency brought me into forced contact with them a couple years back and I’ve grudgingly given ground to a very well designed product.

The New News Reporter - Independent

As I was browsing the Mac store this evening, I came across an interesting story – one that melds my two worlds perfectly: Africa and technology. A board member from Save the Children recently took a trip to Darfur, Sudan. He meant to travel light and capture quality HD footage of what was happening there. He took a 17″ Powerbook, a couple HD video cameras, and extra hard drives. (You can read his story here)

“All my future projects will be shot in high-definition. My real interest in this was always to go into those really hard-hit places like Congo, Darfur and Iraq, where the stories don’t get told, and have a way to tell them. Now with accessible HD cameras and Final Cut Pro HD I can do that with the same precision, the same visual style, the same standards as a very high-end studio production. It’s a real equalizer.”

You’ve just got to love this. What an incredible time we live in where with a small investment (relatively), we can impact our world – make news and stories from far-flung places like Darfur available to the whole world.

Democritization of media is changing our world. Many of us haven’t realized the power we now wield, in truth, the old guard is shaking in their boots. Media dollars are leaving to go to the web, and the web is fragmenting monopolies of voice and thought.

If you doubt that individuals are getting their news out to the world, please take a look at these outlets:


VlogMap (vlog = video logs)

And there are more that I’m sure some kind readers can point out.


  1. i am still laughing at your opening line “I thought they were made in hell and sold by Satan” good points about the web and the democratisation of media. great links!

  2. Interesting stuff. Yet the only remaining problem is, how to upload your videos? Is there anything cheaper than the RegionalBgan from Inmarsat on the market right now?

    Max. upload-speed is 144kbit/s on a shared channel. During my Internship in NBO 2003 they charged 12,95 USD/MB. Purchase costs for the thing were around 1600 USD that time.

    I will better not calculate the presumed cost based on my current data volume of my private ADSL connection ;-).

  3. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!…. “a couple HD video cameras”…ohlala! Pesa, bwana, me I lack that sort of financing. Azzawaiiiise me I’d LOVE to do exactly this sort of backpack broadcasting.

  4. I’m not sure about upload options actually. Of course, if you’ve been to Kenya recently you’ll find that most towns have internet cafes. This is a painful but doable option with good compression and small bite-sized files.

  5. Well, I think Internet Cafes are nor really an option, except some rather expensive ones in Nairobi when it comes to large file uploads. My parents dial-up connection-speed is sometimes as low as 7kbit/s, in case the landline works. An other option is via mobile phone at 9,6kbit/s. Hopefully this is an option soon? I’ve recently read that wananchi offers ADSL access in some places. But remember, you are always bound to larger cities, and were just talking about kenya. I remember Africaexpeditions offering a 30kbit/s access-line in Rumbek at 500 EUR/Month! Btw. plus setup costs and a minimum 18 month contract. But I hope times have changed since 2003…

  6. oooops, ok, more than 2 links in my previous post, I guess thats why you have to moderate it?

  7. Consider yourself moderated.

    Yes, undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to this idea is the ability to upload. However, we all see technology changing at an astounding pace. Who 10 years ago would have guessed the impact of cell phones on Africa?

    I think we can safely assume that the technology to further communications will be available relatively soon. Wireless networks in the US and Europe handle much larger packets of data – I predict further capital investment in Africa that allows similar types of data transfer in the near future.

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