In a TED Talk earlier this year, Mohutsiwa said social media can be used to advance Pan-Africanism and encourage collaboration between the various African countries.
“Whether we like it or not, the fate of African countries is intertwined,” she explained.
What began as a simple hashtag #IfAfricaWasABar, sparked a debate across the continent and got Africans talking about socio-economic problems in their countries.
“People were using the hashtag to do many different things: To poke fun at different stereotypes, to criticise government spending, to make light of geo-political tensions, but most importantly, people were using the hashtag to connect over their Africanness,” she said.
There is no denying that the internet has brought about a lot of change in the way in which people interact with one other, and more importantly, how they deal with issues that affect them.
In Africa today, one in five people have access to the internet, compared to only 10% in 2010, according to a Konrad- Adenauer Stifting report on media in Sub-Saharan Africa
These days, people are using social media for anything and everything, from monitoring elections and addressing issues such as unemployment and corruption to providing humanitarian aid during crises – and young people have taken to it like ducks to water.
The power of social media was demonstrated in 2011 during the Arab Spring, when Facebook and Twitter were instrumental in providing a platform for mobilising supporters.
Closer to home, the hashtag #FeesMustFall prompted a nation-wide shutdown of university campuses across the country. In 2015, thousands of students took to the streets to protest against fee increases – a collective action that led to President Jacob Zuma suspending fee increases for 2016.
A Mostshwana and Swati, Mohutsiwa says that when she first began using Twitter in 2011 she followed many dynamic Africans from countries such as Nigeria and Kenya, whom she later began to meet on her travels around the continent. In their meetings, one subject consistently came up – Twitter.
“That’s when I realised what this was, we were standing in the middle of something amazing because for the first time, young Africans could discuss the future of their continent in real time without the restrictions of borders, finance and watchful governments,” she said.