Senegal’s Gawker, Politico, and now, Groupon

Cyrus Farivar | Featured, Senegal
20 Feb 2011

After reading about the latest Senegalese Internet news in BATIK, a local email newsletter, I was intrigued by the announcement of the launch of Dakardeal.com, a new Groupon clone in Senegal. (Apparently the site hasn’t launched yet, or is down for the time being.)

Still, BATIK informs me that this site is the latest brainchild of El Malick Seck, a Senegalese journalist who had been convicted of libel (and later pardoned by President Abdoulaye Wade).

Seck had previously started Facedakar.com (founded October 2010), which I thought would be a Facebook clone for Dakar, but it turns out is actually closer to Gawker/Maxim, with Senegalese celebrity news, featuring celebrity gossip and bikini shots of attractive women.

Sample recent headlines:

- Amina’s account: In Dakar, a lot of girls are lesbians…
In which a woman writes in to say that she’s been approached by girls in Dakar’s nightclubs, and (naturally) has refused.

- A trap to avoid
Simply a photo of some unnamed model.

- This imam is gay !!!
A profile of Muhsin Hendricks, a gay South African imam.

Seck is also the man behind politicosn.com, a political news site founded in April 2010, which attempts to be a bit more serious.

Sample headlines:

- 100,00 (sic) people demonstrate in Benghazi, second city of Libya and bury their dead: the city is in the hands of insurgents.
Then they’ve just ripped off French copy straight from Reuters, without any sourcing.

- In a visit to Dakar, Alpha Condé promises a quick recovery for Guinea
Then they’ve ripped off copy from the African Press Agency, again, without any sourcing.

Clearly, these sites are meant to provoke Senegalese traffic — you can advertise on Facedakar.com for 2000 CFA/day ($4) — however, as I point out in my book, Senegalese Internet penetration rates still around somewhere around 10 to 15 percent — most people are connecting through cybercafes. Keep in mind, there are only 60,000 DSL subscribers in a country of 12.5 million.

Still, it will be interesting to watch how these sites grow, and if any established sites (Reuters, Politico) go after them for copyright or trademark infringement.

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