Lagos — A report released by the World Internet Stats in its global 2011 Facebook usage report has shown that the number of Nigerian Facebook users has increased from 400, 000 in the last four years to 4.3 million at the end of December 2011.
According to the report, Nigeria maintains third position in terms of the number of Facebook users in the African continent, coming behind Egypt and South Africa with 9.4 million and 4.8 million users respectively.
…and it made me make this:
I really wanted to see the relationship between population and connectivity amongst the developing and developed nations of Africa. The data says two things that you probably already know: 1| Facebook is the quintessential global flattening tool of the 21st century (the only other precedence I can think of are the telephone and Christopher Columbus), and 2| Nigeria is a force amongst African nations and has the potential to impact the global market. We’ve undoubtedly seen this in the recent oil debacle.
So what of these shifts? How do they effect you, you ask? The fact of the matter is it does. Bloomberg News reports that:
Crude oil for February delivery gained 0.2 percent to $98.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 1:41 p.m. [Jan 16th] in Singapore. Cocoa prices in New York have advanced 4.6 percent in New York since the strike started on concern shipment from Nigeria, the world’s fourth-biggest producer of the beans, will be disrupted.
One can easily be a cynic when it comes to African global integration. I mean last month, world renowned former Foreign Office Architects partner and Harvard Graduate School of Design professor, Farshid Moussavi, said that she was “dubious” of students working in places like rural Africa, saying that its “an easy option.” Strangely enough, however, here I am sitting in on Harvard GSD course presentations, and already I’ve heard two or three seminars on design and policy planning for slums in Mumbai, Africa, and elsewhere. It seems Moussavi’s colleagues, Michael Hays, Rahul Mehrotra and Michael Hooper got the memo before her, but I digress.
The point is that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are playing a pivotal role in exposing people in developing nations to a heightened quality of life as well as the role they can play in shaping their nations. NGO’s, NPO’s and other outside organizations can come in and drop seeds of wisdom and aid all day long, but fostering empowerment comes from harnessing the tools available to a people, such as internet connectivity and access to a global forum like Facebook. It’s like putting a seat at the table for every person that has a username and password. The impact on local and global perceptions of a place can be changed dramatically.
So with the rise in competitive mobile markets in developing countries like Nigeria, mobile connectivity is more readily accessible to a growing vibrant generation of youth. In the line graph in the lower right of the graphic, I projected an increase in the rate of growth of Facebook in Africa. Currently at only 3.6%, it has no where to go but up, and with new regional computer plants and awareness of best practices in computer refurbishing programs, it will go up exponentially.
It might be that Twitter and Facebook, in the age of mobile technology are the first sign of a nation on its way to becoming a thriving developed nation. Who knows!
Visited the Anam settlement of Iyiora today. They do everything big there: big family sizes, big houses, even big fashion. As we walked around, my supervisor, being the fashion savvy woman that she is, spotted (out of the 25 or so kids that had been following us around the village) two little girls that were adorned in House of Dereon hoodie dresses. I’m sure Beyonce’s eyes would gleam at the sight of these little girls that live on considerably less than a dollar a day but have enough savvy to know where it’s at in fashion. There was also a pretty pimp looking hustler type that, upon our arrival I’d assume, went to put on his Sunday best. He came back sporting a sharp tan and black blazer. I call him Brother Sharp.
Not for nothing, these kids are pretty amazing. Being raised in the company of one another while their mothers and fathers work – its kind of reminiscent of “The Goonies” or “Little Rascles” if you’re familiar with those movies. You can’t help but wonder what mischievous antics they get themselves into when the adults aren’t looking. On the other hand, the mature attire of, say, a Brother Sharp is very befitting. The children undoubtedly know much more about their environment then I did of mine at their age. You can ask any of them about any tree or plant and they’d be able to name it for you. I, on the other hand, had to google “ficus.”
After being briefed as to the specs of the Anam project, we gave short introductions and conferred over the ideas presented in the master plan document to gauge opinions and begin the dialogue. It was an immensely synergic atmosphere. When we broke off into our charrette groups, the fellows were allowed to migrate from group to group and contribute what they could. One individual, Charles, studying real estate appraisal, was especially helpful in explaining some of the issues of development and equity in the Anam region noting the lack of enforcement and communication of regulations on zoning and tree felling.
As of now, the Fellows are this repository of knowledge that have served as a bridge between our understanding of Anam and the reality of Anam. Given that there are many things in Anam that go undocumented, this type of word of mouth education almost seems very befitting for the project.
It’s going to be interesting to see if and how the dynamic will evolve as we are able to more fruitfully engage them with better informed design solutions or systems of implementation.
You don’t really appreciate the labor that goes into something as small as a tomato until you’re ankle deep in fertile earth trying to arrogate the soil. That’s what I awoke to do today, surprised that, due to the torrential downpour we had last night into this morning, we didn’t go to meet the elders of Umuoba-Anam as scheduled. Instead, Stacey introduced this sterling silver-spoon fed city slicker to the toil and grunt-work of farming in this tropical climate. The sun beaming on the six of us, we rolled up our sleeves (and pants) to cement bag wild palm trees growing in a small 25’ by 20’ garden for possible transplant to other locations around the site. Additionally, we tilled and capped the center of the garden with top soil to allow for a more natural, distributed irrigation during the rains.
With far less endurance than the rest of the clan, I had to tap out early. Unfurling myself from my hunch at the side of the garden where I was ready to retch, I watched the tireless efforts of my comrades and thought to myself how strong the men and women of this place were and continue to be. I thought especially hard about the women who often bare the brunt of the harvesting labor, trade at markets, and cook, all the while melodically soothing an infant fixed with cloth to her back. And here I am, a slender and relatively healthy young man and I can’t even handle an hour of hoeing around. Thank goodness no one was watching.
Later in the evening, we watched the remaining two parts of the BBC’s Lagos documentary. They framed two closely related aspects of the ethos within Lagos; entrepreneurship and innovative solutions. Showcasing the ingenious yet contaminate method of land reclamation in Mokoko (“the Venice of Lagos”), as well as the struggle for income through the plight at the Olusosun rubbish dump. I would really encourage you to watch it if at all interested.
Oh, and there’s a goat here, but it won’t be here for long.