The Need

Currently, across Africa, there are less active editors on Wikipedia than on the tiny island of Hong Kong. Something needs to be done to create a critical mass of connected, invested and increasingly experienced community in each region.

Further, across Africa, there are around 1,500 museums and countless heritage, educational, and knowledge creation (journalists, news papers) companies, individuals and institutions that have not yet discovered nor understood the value and significant potential of the digital knowledge economy.

WikiAfrica’s Share Your Knowledge project has had some successes, however it’s scope has been more limited than anticipated. Some of the challenges are just too hard (lack of resources, understanding CC and benefits, digitised material, bureaucracy, etc.) to overcome remotely, and will be better resolved with activated individuals on the ground able to talk to the GLAM Content Partners face-to-face, and work with the staff through training and implementation as a Wikipedian in Residence. Equally, fledgling volunteer communities need to have someone committed (emotionally and financially) to driving, developing and supporting the community towards self-sustaining numbers and activities.

The logical, sustainable extension of the position of the Wikipedian in Residence is the adoption of a freemium model managed in each country by the alternatively named Wiki Entrepreneurs.

In this process, Wikipedians in Residence receive one month’s rigorous training at the Africa Centre in all aspects of the Open Movement (in 2014, this was #OpenAfrica14) and at activating heritage, cultural and media content partners in their country. On their return to their country, they will work on creating value for those institutions by assisting, training and supporting the donation each institution’s content on to Wikipedia and its sister projects. They will also actively gather together and support a Wikipedia-based community.

In 2014, a pilot version of the project is supported in Malawi and Ethiopia by the Prince Claus Fund. Meet the Wiki Entrepreneurs who are part of the Wiki Entrepreneur initiative.

The Freemium Model

The definition for a freemium model is:

proprietary product or service (typically a digital offering such as media or web services) is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for advanced features, functionality, and more in-depth services.

WikiAfrica has developed a model that achieves three goals:

1. It empowers individuals to become self-sustaining digital consultants with expert knowledge in a niche field,
2. It activates communities that are driven by self-invested individuals with a common goal; and
3. It assists GLAM and other knowledge generating organisations in being best positioned to benefit from the digital release of institutional knowledge to global audiences under CC licensing.

In this case, the activated Wikipedian would do the following.

  • WikiAfrica and the WikiEntrepreneur will secure the partnership with a GLAM or other knowledge institutions (media, education, etc.) in the Wikipedian’s locale.
  • The partnership for involvement would be conducted in 2 phases:

Phase 1: Free = 1 month intensive dedication to:

  • Knowledge: case studies about how, why and the potential benefits of being involved. Vital support and management of transition to CC-BY-SA licencing for some of the content, especially websites.
  • Strategy development and content audit across two phases – freemium and premium
  • Presence on Wikipedia: aggregating support to have an institutional article to ‘good article status’, with one subject-specific concept article  and over 50 photos donated by institution illustrating their collections.
  • Licensing: CC-BY-SA implementation across the necessary platforms
  • Audit: of the possible implementation of other Open Movement benefits
  • Staff communication: Staff training and involvement
  • Community activation: in-house events at the GLAM to involve members, friends and peripheral experts
  • Marketing: activating or expanding social media portals to begin communication around project and online community building
  • A report including analytics relaying 3 months of article tracking.

Phase 2: Premium = ongoing technical and content creation support; agreement* between organisation and WikiAfrica authorised Wikipedian in Residence.

These Services could include:

  • Short term strategy implementation: to guide, instruct, and support to ensure that the strategy is implemented in the most effective and efficient way;
  • Long term strategy development: through collaborative workshops, to assist in the examination and innovation of the organisation to develop a long term, sustainable and realistic digital engagement plan; especially focussing on the benefits of the wider Open Movement.
  • Members and education liaison: to activate and encourage peripheral members and educational partners and ensure they are supported in their continued work in uploading content
  • Initiate events: at the institution that may include but not be limited to: QRpedia, staff outreach, Image donations, Museum Apprentice Program Wikipedia project, Backstage Pass events, Hack-a-Thons, Wiki Takes …, Edit-a-Thons & Translate-a-Thons, Collaboration with Wikipedians, Collaboration with college courses.
  • Marketing support: to ensure that all content uploads and donations, as well as, events, and other relevant material is distributed to the relevant parties as well as national media to ensure continued interested, and the widest support for the organisation and project; and ongoing social media networking and communication.
  • Each activated Wikipedian in Residence will blog about their ongoing experiences with the partnering organisations.


WikiAfrica Malawi

Michael Phoya, Wikipedian in Residence at WikiAfrica Malawi, writes about his experiences.


Link to site

WikiAfrica Ethiopia

Read Abel Asrat’s blog about being a Wikipedian in Residence at WikiAfrica Ethiopia


Link to site