Burkina Faso

“E-content is a new concept and for the common man, it still means nothing because of its online nature”

How would you define e-content in Burkina Faso?

All electronic data in CD Rom, computer, website, cell phones is e-content. Practical applications are possible in the presence of ICTs, but only 20% of the population is literate, and few can access a computer. E-content is a new concept and for the common man, it still means nothing because of its online nature. For example, the electronic newspaper cost €2.5 per hour (cost of connection energy and printing) in comparison to the hard copy which costs just €0.30 per copy.
There is no e-content without good infrastructure. The more advanced the civil society, great is its use and production of local content

“If civil society has to be modern and progressive, it must lead in content creation”

What’s the status of e-content in Burkina Faso?

The government of Burkina Faso wants to chalk out a strategy for introducing e-content in development, government, health and education. At present, 20 ministries have their own website. The private sector, especially banks are starting to introduce online financial transactions. E-content must helps us provide information at a reasonable cost and be more effective than the traditional modes of communication and information dissemination.

If civil society has to be modern and progressive, it must lead in content creation. The development sector is sensitive to this problem, but we don’t make the necessary effort to create interesting and relevant content. I think we must start by first observing the traditional ways of sharing information and knowledge, and assess what is possible to change and what requires ICTs. Lot of e-content we put on the Internet is more useful for Europeans than us. Producing e-content is an expensive proposition, but the returns are not immediate. Only the development sector can produce e-content for free.

E-content should start with education, followed by business and then development.
Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz, e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in Burkina Faso?

The best experiences have been with sharing information on ICTs in Burkina. It was called local information and exchange networking. The URL is http://www.burkina-ntic.org. We put local stories on ICT on this website. Europeans visit the site first, and within one and a half years it is used by local students and ICT workers. The culture websites on music dance and crafts come next.

The ministries of agriculture, finance, education and foreign affairs have their websites to facilitate the good governance.

We can add a civil society portal with http://www.faso-ong.org, which includes information about associations, NGOs and small online enterprises.

What major initiatives have influenced the development of e-content in Burkina Faso?

The major initiatives that influenced the development of e-content were strategies founded on participative approach. This approach looks at the needs of the people and integrates it constructively.

“Ours is still an oral culture in essence and we need to adapt e-content to that”
 I think that putting e-content in cellular phones can be a good idea, because lots of people who can’t access computer have cellular phones.

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in Burkina Faso?

The major bottlenecks in the path of e-content are the lack of ICT infrastructure and a collective need for it. Ours is still an oral culture in essence and we need to adapt e-content to that.

In most countries, especially developing, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become pervasive and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organization/government, etc. What is the situation in Burkina Faso?

It is important for a country like Burkina Faso to continue to use traditional ways like broadcast radio, television and printing media. The combination of traditional and modern media can produce far reaching results and reduce the numerical intermediation.

E-content may accelerate development, but we will then be at the mercy of intermediation in terms of setting up of the system, attending to computers, getting new software and ink. That seems like a lot of dependence on external environment. We can ask ourselves if we can cope with this technology in the long term. That is the topic of the book of Sylvestre Ouédraogo “Computer and the Djembe: Between Dreams and Realities; Harmattan 2003.

We must not be forced into globalization, yes, we can’t stick to our old ways too, but we need to put our own local languages, our own need into e-content.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in Burkina Faso in terms of infrastructure, penetration, and policies?

The ICT policies started way back in 1960 with the Independence. We wanted to build infrastructure for telecommunication, broadcast radio and television. They promised lot of things to people, but we don’t think they have been able to alleviate poverty. On the contrary, the divide has got bigger, and the entry of the electronic media will further aggravate it.

“The youth and women have a lot of information to share and exchange in the fields of education and health”

What’s the future of e-content in Burkina Faso?

The new strategy of Burkina Faso describes six categories of e-content:
• e-government
• e-education
• e-health
• e-employment
• e commerce
• e-rural and development

In e-government, we have more than 20 ministries online. In e-education, we have a number of projects for e-learning. We don’t want to start big projects now. In the domain of e-content, we can mention www.burkina-ntic.org who put information about ICT’ and local publications online. We have also a host of cultural websites. (www.siao.bf, www.manega.bf, www.culture.gov.bf, www.fespaco.bf)

The civil society is a great user of e-content. If we can bring that into our decision making we will be able to put data and numerical information online. The youth and women have a lot of information to share and exchange in the fields of education and health.

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