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Hifa Utilises the Internet to Get Its Message Across

by Roy Steiner

Harare, May 17, 2001 -- For many large events a website is becoming a critical means of not only publicising the event itself but keeping all stakeholders informed of last minute changes and fostering a sense of community around that event.

A brilliant example of an event-focused web presence is that of the recently ended Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) which once again successfully launched its website at

The site not only contained the latest calendar of events but a detailed description of the artists involved and a history of the festival itself.

These type of websites create value on a number of difference fronts. First, they actively promote the event and distribute key information at a fraction of the cost of doing so using paper-based brochures.

HIFA is in continual dialogue with international artists and organisations and being able to refer them to a website rather than sending them a brochure that very likely will be out of date when it arrives is a tremendous source of value.

Second, websites allow other affiliated organisations to link to the site and leverage the power of networked communities to bring visitors to the website. Multiple artistic organisations both regionally and internationally now link to the HIFA site fostering a web of interconnections for the artistic community.

In the future the HIFA website can create even more value by allowing interested audience members to purchase their tickets online rather than having to go to a ticket booth, saving both parties time and money.

The website can also become a place where audience members and artists dialogue about the meaning of the pieces that were presented, further extending the influence of a single event.

Many large conferences and events are relying on websites to facilitate information dissemination about them.

In academic circles, the annual conferences of key scientific organisations post all their papers on the Internet before the conference, allowing participants to come prepared for richer and more focused dialogue.

Regional organisations such as the WK Kellogg Foundation use the Internet to post conference notes and papers so that participants can always download a paper they found interesting without weighing themselves down with papers that are usually misplaced anyway.

Some events are even providing video streaming of selected portions to include a wider audience in the proceedings. For example the Baha'i World Community will be inaugurating a major building project on the slopes of Mount Carmel in Israel with a world conference that will be video streamed from their news site at

As broadband Internet becomes more prevalent and more and more households get connected, conferences with truly worldwide participation will no longer be rare events, restricted to heads of states and diplomats, but be open to the rest of us who are already part of a global civilisation.

*Roy Steiner, PhD is the managing director of Cyberplex Africa, Zimbabwe's largest website development company ( Steiner can be contacted at Kopje Plaza, 6th Floor, 1 Jason Moyo Avenue, Harare, or on telephone numbers 777160-4.

©Copyright 2001, Financial Gazette/All Africa

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