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When the Swedish Internet audio platform SoundCloud was established eight years ago to challenge the supremacy of Myspace in the online music sharing business, its founders may not have predicted the way users would adopt their service. Among the 12 hours worth of audio being uploaded every minute is a collection of news reports and short audio interviews covering the political unrest in Burundi. As reported today by Quartz Africa, a team of journalists whose radio stations were attacked following a government clampdown on independent media have taken their work underground.
Known as SOS Medias, the 10 intrepid broadcasters have tracked the government’s increasing authoritativeness and given the opposition party a communication platform ahead of parliamentary elections next week and a presidential election in July. The canny maneuvering of SOS Medias does face one insurmountable challenge: low internet penetration in Burundi. Its SoundCloud reports have built a tiny audience of merely 500-1,000 listeners and another 11,000 people are following their Facebook page. It’s a trifling audience for a national media service. But a victory by opposition candidates in the upcoming elections will be a triumph for independent press and digital media in Africa.