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Africa, with nearly one-billion people, represents the world's third-largest market after China (1.3-billion) and India (1.1-billion), and is widely recognized as the last frontier for global economic growth. It is also where humanity began. And yet it has the lowest and least informed profile of any region on the internet; moreover, what does appear is often selective, lacks context and reinforces outdated stereotypes. Africa deserves a new deal – and especially in Wikipedia.
WikiAfrica is an international collaborative project between Africa Centre and Lettera27 that is designed to Africanize Wikipedia by generating and expanding 30 000 articles over two years. The project promotes a new method of acquiring and sharing knowledge that is fully-inclusive, mainstream, intercultural and relevant to contemporary and historic Africa. The initial two years are focused on encouraging external Africa-based, cultural organizations, museums and archives, as well as bloggers and journalists, to contribute their knowledge to Wikipedia.
These initial two years focus on content related to literature, poetry, art, cinema and other cultural products. WikiAfrica will not exclude anything that falls outside of these categories, but focuses most of its energy in these areas. At the same time, the WikiAfrica project expands the African content that is already available online and improves existing articles by combining sources and promoting the participation of experts. WikiAfrica contributes to the aims of Wikimedia projects online including regional WikiProjects (especially WikiProject Africa, WikiProject African diaspora and the Africa Portal) and also works externally with texts, quotes, images, audio and video.
The project will be approached and achieve its goals via the following four activities:
- Create partnerships with organisations that have existing archives that are readily accessible and that are predisposed to placing this content online;
- Motivate the adaptation of a copyleft or Creative Commons approach to intellectual property (click here, for more information).;
- Activate new Wikipedia users and editors in Africa through marketing and promotion; and
- Create training tools and establish the mentorships required to activate a new team of users and editors of Wikipedia (wikipedians).
Wikipedia in a nutshell
Wikipedia is a free, online multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation. It has been created by thousands of everyday people. Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has accumulated an archive of 30 million pages in around 287 languages. The English language version has over 4.3 million articles. Wikipedia is one of the 5 most popular Web sites on the Internet.
In addition to Wikipedia, the non-profit Wikimedia foundation oversees several other open-content projects, including:
- Wiktionary, a dictionary and thesaurus
- Wikibooks, a collection of free texts and other books
- Wikiquote, a collection of quotations
- Wikisource, a collection of free source documents
- Wikiversity, a collection of free learning materials
- Wikispecies, a directory of species
- Meta-Wiki, which coordinates all the other projects.