The Association of African Universities Secretariat hosted the inaugural Social Media Seminar for African Universities in Accra Ghana from 21st to 23rd March 2016. The seminar was facilitated by the staff of the AAU Communication Services Department in collaboration with David Girling a lecturer in social media and international development at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

grpA total of 14 participants from Ghana and Zimbabwe attended the seminar – representing 31% of the total applicants. Thirty applicants failed to attend – possibly due to funding limitations. The 14 participants came from the University of Cape Coast, University of Development Studies, University of Professional Studies Accra, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (Ghana), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe).

The main goal of the Seminar was to support the Communications stratDirectors, Public Relations Directors, International Liaison Directors and International Programs Directors to develop Social Media Policies and Strategies to guide their institutions. Social Media has evolved to become a very important tool and platform that African Universities must leverage. The participants were also taken through the basics of Social Media use, case studies, best practices and key concepts. The seminar facilitators used project-based / case study teaching / learning methods to give the participants hands on skills.

The highlights of the Seminar included:

  1. Realization that universities face similar challenges related to the governance of the website institutionally and the roles of the ICT Units versus the roles of the Public Relations Offices
  2. It emerged that Social Media was NOT a mass communication tool. But is a Many to Many communication tool
  3. Participants developed draft Social Media Strategies that they presented on the last day of the seminar
  4. Participants anticipate the following challenges in implementing Social Media Policies and strategies in their universities: staffing issues, how to advocate for buy-in, budget challenges, and inadequate bandwidth.
  5. It was emphasized that Social Media platforms must be consistently branded
  6. Participants were advised to hire someone with a passion for social media – else implementation could fail

The feedback from the participants was largely very positive. Please use the hash tag #SocialMedia4Uni to filter some of the workshop tweets to learn more about the Accra Seminar.feedback

The Social Media Event was covered by the Ghana News Agency – See this link for more information: https://t.co/xlq4BdGYPU

The other AAU-organised Social Media Seminars are scheduled for 2016 as listed as below:

  1. Swaziland – June 2016
  2. Uganda – September 2016
  3. Morocco – December 2016

These AAU Social Media Seminars have been inspired by the work that we have previously done with the CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation). CTA has facilitated training of 4453 people in 44 countries of which 42% were women and 48% were youth (18-35 years of age) in Web 2.0 Skills. Read more about the CTA Web 2.0 For Dev Initiative.

AAU sincerely thanks the following friends for their input into the curriculum and their contributions towards marketing of the planned Social Media events: Rambaldi Giacomo (@iapad), Johnson Opigo (@johnopigo), David Girling (@socialmedia4D), Beth Kanter (@kanter), Zawadi Nyong’o (@ZawadiNyongo) and Kellie Koo (@kel_koo). We are also grateful to CTA for contributing flyers, magazines and a Web2ForDev banner for the event that was held in Accra Ghana.