The Impact of Internet and Social Media on Communications in Africa an Overall Summary of Qualitative research Insights

Telecoms and Internet Reports

Document type: Report
Availability: Available
Publication date: 29 August 2014
Number of pages: 87

Price: Free

Overall Summary of Qualitative Research Insights

Focus groups and one to one interviews were carried out in Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. Those chosen were a mixture of educated professionals, health professionals and non-professionals. The key responses from interviewees can be summarized as follows:

Big Changes over the last 5 years – More media and the Internet: Two things are highlighted by all interviewees across all countries: firstly, the increase in the amount of media and information available and secondly, which they see as part of the increase in access to more information, the use of the Internet.

Educated use internet but Price and Access Issues (esp in Rural Areaa): In terms of use, the country interviews can be ranked from least likely to use to most likely to use as follows: Ethiopia; Senegal, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa. The well educated (including health professionals) were most likely to use the Internet and see it as a key method to obtain information.

However, with the exceptions of Tanzania and South Africa, interviewees saw rural areas as where access would not be possible. Price played a role in restricting use in Ethiopia compared to other countries in terms of time used by interviewees.

Fear of the Internet and Perceived Threat to Values: There were fears about the impact of the Internet, particularly amongst the religious and less well educated but in countries where there was wider access (Tanzania and South Africa), they were less likely to see the Internet just as a threat.

Internet increasingly the Way to Access Fast News in Cities: For city dwellers, the Internet has joined radio and TV as a mass medium used to get both news and information. In countries where the Internet is both faster and more widespread (Tanzania and South Africa), the Internet is used for breaking news instead of radio or TV. In places where media is controlled by Government (Ethiopia) or where there are red lines around particular topics (Senegal), the Internet acts as a checking mechanism for news and information

Social Media used for News and Information Gathering: With the exception of South Africa (where Google+ makes a strong showing), Facebook is the most dominant social media platform in all of the five countries where qualitative research was carried out. Although the initial impetus for using Facebook is undoubtedly about the interviewees’ personal life, it evolves into a source
for both news and information. There are rich blogospheres coming out of

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Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania (both from within the country and from the diaspora) and these are used by interviewees for news and information.

The Disconnect Between Health Information and Behavior Change: Health information on the range of topics shown to the interviewees is widely understood except in more rural areas where interviewees acknowledge there is an information and media deficit. There are some gaps in information, polio being the most widely mentioned.

Although the interviewees in the main had absorbed and responded to the key health messages being put out, both traditional and religious attitudes play
a key part in how health messages are taken up. The Ethiopian interviewees discuss a campaign around TB run during the interview period and it is very clear that whilst it was widely seen and understood, behavior changes do

not always seem to have flowed from it. It is clear from comments across all five countries that the less well educated were less likely to pay attention to certain health messages like those around hygiene. This is partly financial (the living circumstances of poorer communities) and partly different beliefs in areas less able to access health messages. Health professionals are increasingly using the Internet as a source of information for work purposes.

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Methodology

This study used Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) as well as In-depth interviews (IDIs). The FGDs were conducted in Ghana and Senegal. FGD participants were pre-recruited and assembled at a central place for discussions. In-depth interviews were conducted in Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Africa. Appointments were booked with participants prior to actual discussions. Discussions were conducted face-to- face at a time and place of convenience to the participants. The work was carried out by Research Solutions Africa.

Price: Free