The move by Mark Zuckerberg in 2016 to wire up the continent to its free internet service as a philanthropic gesture had its cynical marketing ploy and hidden charges.
Facebook has over the years trained thousands of people on digital literacy skills and this year, prepares to train close to 20,000 participants across Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire and Ethiopia on safe, responsible and beneficial usage of the digital platforms.
While the tech-giant puts its hopes high, digital literacy organizations are not happy with its latest developments.
Four organizations operating in Africa with focus on the digital rights of children have recently accused the tech-giant Facebook of running deceptive digital literacy initiatives in Africa.
In a petition to Facebook, these organizations are seeking it to revise its digital literacy programs for children in Africa.
In the petition cited by NetbuzzAfrica.com, the organizations exposed Facebook’s inflated numbers suggesting that its programme designed to equip the youth and general public across Sub-Saharan Africa with digital skills was successful.
“We are surprised that Facebook is churning out figures suggesting its reach in terms of Digital Literacy initiatives in Africa.
We are pained to suspect that this may be benign attempt by the company to deprive African children their full rights to safety, protection, participation, information, and digital literacy, among other basic human rights.”
According to the petition what Facebook “is describing as digital literacy in Africa for children and young people is nothing close to what is available to the same category of persons in other parts of the world.
Even though the situation may not be perfect, not a third of those digital/online rights and services available in the developed world are made available to the African Child.”
My Digital World, Safe Online, Ilizwe Lam, and eZibo are a consolidation of all Facebook digital literacy programs which has been offered virtually this year to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition ended with four specific demands to Facebook from the organizations.
“What is fair, just and equitable under the present circumstances is for Facebook Inc. to urgently and seriously consider the following suggestions:
- Facebook Africa should rollout a standardized Digital Literacy programme across Africa for all African Children.
- Facebook Inc. should consider developing resources specifically curated in the various African Languages for African children.
- Facebook Inc. should consider listing eligible African Charities on Facebook Fundraiser charity list, and enable fundraising campaigns targeted at supporting charities in Africa, not in the developed world.
- Facebook Inc. should consider opening up the stimulus package initiative to cover eligible African countries for local businesses in Africa to access support.