A couple years ago, the first Barcamp unconferences started to show up around Africa. These loosely organized events end up having a large impact on the local grassroots tech scene and blogosphere. The open and unstructured format ends up fitting the African style of community and discussion around ideas and projects that just isn’t found in normal conferences.
The first “Barcamp Africa“, however, was a little different than the normal local events. It was put together by individuals in the US (at the Google office in California), some of whom were diaspora, and others who had a deep interest in the continent.
That was a year ago, and now the good people behind Maneno (a blogging platform made for Africa) have taken over the hosting of content around Barcamp’s that take place in Africa or that have an African focus. Beyond that, they have created a simple way for those putting on new Barcamp’s to setup an online home for it.
“The primary objective of the new BarCamp Africa hub is to encourage a continuous stream of participant driven content from African barcamps before, during, as well as after the events take place. Barcamp Africa allows each barcamp to have a simple, hosted, lightweight site specific to their event with a custom url. As an example, check out the recent barcamp’s in http://barcampafrica.com/swaziland, http://barcampafrica.com/madagascar, or the upcoming http://barcampafrica.com/abidjan. Stories published on this site as well as others on the platform aggregate to the main BarcampAfrica.com page (as well as the Maneno home page) and are exposed to the larger audience of barcampers all over Africa.”
As someone who has helped put on a couple Barcamps, I’ve found that there are really two components. First is the simple organization, which self-organizes best around a wiki – specifically the Barcamp.org wiki. Second, is the communication to everyone else around the community of the upcoming event, done best with a dedicated blog/website.
This second area, communication, is where the greatest value for organizers will be found with the new Maneno hosting for Barcamp Africa. It will be with the those who simply want to setup a site that will get them good, dedicated exposure and allow multiple people to write on it, with updates on location, place, attendees and initiatives arising out of it.
For those who haven’t tried it, Maneno has an incredibly fast loading blogging platform, specifially designed for low bandwidth areas in Africa. On top of that, it is available in local African languages that have traditionally had little web presence. Articles can be easily translated between multiple languages and sit atop one another to overcome the linguistic divide facilitating open communication between the different communities.
If you’re interested in upcoming Barcamps around Africa, check out the Barcamp Africa calendar.