Even without smartphones, internet or electricity, rural Malawians are gaining access to video material through young entrepreneurs called DJs who work mainly from barber shops.
In small towns in Malawi, young men who want to start their own ICT business are teaming up with
the unlikeliest of partners, including barbers. The entrepreneurs are almost always men in their 20s or even teens. Most have some schooling and can read and write. They call themselves DJs, copying video materials for a small fee in a shop called a “burning centre”.
Few of the DJs have access to internet or email, although they do have Facebook on their cell phones. The DJs like movies and some are making their own movies or music videos. They share the videos they make with their friends, so even though they are off the internet, they have a real-life social network to swap original and copied content. Some DJs can provide other ICT services, as farmers begin to demand them, for example they sell blank CDs, and helping to film
or edit videos of local events.
The burning centres pay no royalties, so Malawian entertainers have the cold comfort of becoming famous without getting rich. But for the non-profit development sector, the DJs can be ideal partners, to get educational videos into farmers’ hands. In 2015, the international NGO Access Agriculture distributed educational videos for farmers in 3GP and on DVD to 70 DJs. The DJs sold 456 DVDs and 645 videos in 3GP on the parasitic weed Striga, 551 DVDs and 547 3GP videos on rice, and 507 DVDs and 559 3GP videos on chilli growing and processing. By tapping into entrepreneurial DJs, educational videos can be distributed to thousands of rural people.
- Website with farmer-to-farmer videos available for free download.
- Website with blogs, books, articles and other resources on agriculture and communication.
Thirty four farmer to farmer videos are presently available in Chichewa language. These videos are freely downloadable, also in 3gp format for mobile phone viewing, from All videos in Chichewa.