The Afripedia project was initiated in late 2011, and engaged Wikimédia France, the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) and the Institut Français (IF). Kiwix also supplied technological support.
What is the project about?
The Afripedia project aims to enable significant off-line consultation of Wikipedia and also to train contributors in French-speaking African schools and universities.
Our starting point was the fact that, although African universities have begun to be well-equiped with computer hardware, their Internet connectivity is often poor, or at least too weak or irregular to allow frequent, natural use of Wikipedia. These issues and lack of Internet access at home are factors that prevent students and teachers from using Wikipedia as much as they might like.
It was important for us to combine the dissemination of Wikipedia with contribution trainings so that students and teachers could contribute to Wikipedia and enhance content about Africa, which is notably under-represented on Wikipedia (only 2 percent of contributors are from Africa, and most of them from North African countries). Thus, when quality Internet access comes, Wikipedia contributors will be ready.
Using Kiwix, which has been offering off-line consultation of Wikipedia for several years, we implemented a computer deployment project to broadcast Wikipedia through offline WiFi networks. This mechanism, in place in universities of West Africa and Central Africa, allows people from those universities to connect easily to the network and freely read Wikipedia without an Internet connection or desktop computer. A more detailed description is available on Wikipedia: projet Afripédia.
What have we done?
With the help of AUF, we hired about 15 people from French-speaking digital campuses in 11 African countries: Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Chad, Central African Republic, Mauritania, Niger, Togo, Mali and Burundi. From 5-9 November 2012, training took place at Abidjan’s French speaking digital campus, located in the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Cocody (Ivory Coast). Over five days, we taught how to use and install the Wikipedia offline consultation tools. We also taught Wikipedia editing, explained concepts such as free licences and introduced the various Wikimedia projects. The week ended with a public lecture available to students (around a hundred people attended), and a contribution workshop animated by the people trained during the week.