Where Africa and Technology Collide!

The Blackboard Blogger of Monrovia

Alfred Sirleaf is an analog blogger. He take runs the “Daily News”, a news hut by the side of a major road in the middle of Monrovia. He started it a number of years ago, stating that he wanted to get news into the hands of those who couldn’t afford newspapers, in the language that they could understand.

Liberias Blackboard Blogger

Alfred serves as a reminder to the rest of us, that simple is often better, just because it works. The lack of electricity never throws him off. The lack of funding means he’s creative in ways that he recruits people from around the city and country to report news to him. He uses his cell phone as the major point of connection between him and the 10,000 (he says) that read his blackboard daily.

Liberia’s Blackboard Blogger from WhiteAfrican on Vimeo.

Not all Liberians who read his news are literate, so he makes use of symbols. Whether it’s a UN or military helmet, a poster of a soccer player or a bottle of colored water to denote gas prices, he is determined to get the message out in any way that he can.

Liberia - Daily News props

Advertising works here too. It’s $5 to be on the bottom level, $10 to be on the sideboard and $25 on the main section. He doesn’t get a lot of advertising, and but he manages to scrape by.

His plans for the future include decentralizing his work, this means opening up identical locations in other parts of Monrovia, and in a few of the larger cities around the country. I don’t put it past Alfred either, he’s a scrappy entrepreneur on a mission to bring information and news to ordinary Liberians. He’s succeeded thus far, and I would put my money on him growing it even further.

Alfred Sirleaf talking to a news reader

(Also, read the NYT piece on him from 3 years ago)

(note: title for this post stolen shamelessly from Rebecca’s Pocket)


  1. Oh man, this is GREAT! A true AfriGadgeter.

  2. This is truly a wonderful story. My Dad used to tell me about how in the city of Culcutta, India newspapers would post the dailies on large wooden notice boards at the local bus station. Crowds would gather in the morning around these boards and hold lively debates on the days topics.

  3. I want to meet this guy!

  4. @JKE – you think so? I couldn’t decide whether this was an AfriGadget post or not, so ended up posting it here instead. I’ll cross post…

  5. Excellent. Imagine what this, and he, could become…

  6. A fascinating and inspiring post. What bloggers do in offering digital community, this man makes happen with real people, real discussions in real time.

  7. Blackboard and chalk – the ultimate appropriate technologies

  8. really inspiring. True African Spirit! 🙂

  9. I think this could be replicated in other communities in Africa. It could change livelihoods of the locals. Great

  10. this is just inspirational. who would have thunk….

  11. fantastic idea its funny if you think of an idea another is thinking in the same lines just like my leo noticeboard idea

  12. Great post!
    It is very interesting, so I translated it in Italian for our blog. We are an NGO working for decent work and trade union rights.
    Thank you again!

  13. I forgot: it will be published on april, 2nd, with the title “per fare un blog ci vuole una lavagna”, to do a blog you need a blackboard.

  14. This is so encouraging. Who would think of chalk, blackboard as tools of trade out of school anyway.

  15. I love the way he brings information to a large audience. We do that on our site with international affairs, making those subjects accessible—and attractive— to a large audience… check us out http://www.JANERA.com.

  16. It’s creative and i think that it can work in many African countries especially in the rural areas. Keep it up man.

  17. 방경환(Kyounghwan-Bang

    August 8, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Great post!
    It is very interesting, so I translated it in Korea for our Blog.
    Thank you again!

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