Picture: Yasmine Jacobs/IOL.

Cape Town - "If you are trying to get access to something that is important to you and that knowledge doesn't exist, you are disadvantaged."

This was according to General Chairperson for Wikimania 2018 and President of Wikimedia ZA Douglas Scott.

Scott was speaking at the Wikimedia dinner that was held in Cape Town on Wednesday night.  

The dinner was aimed at highlighting the dire need for Wikipedia contributors from Africa.

Wikipedia is calling on the South African public to contribute and become voluntary editors in a bid for more information in more languages for more people.

For many people, Wikipedia is a free source of  knowledge that is accessible at a click of a button.

There are about 4.6 million articles written in 300 languages on Wikipedia.  These articles are viewed more than 15 billion times every month. 

Need to know about something but don't have enough time to do in-depth research? Or do you want to read a summary of a prequel before stepping into a movie? Wikipedia can answer most of your questions. 

The world is changing as the demand for the Internet continues to grow.

However, Wikipedia is facing a number of challenges. These challenges include lack of female contributers and the issue of decolonising language.

"Less than 20% of Wiki contributers are female.  Only 16% of the biographies on the English Wikipedia are about women," said Chairperson of Wiki In Africa, Isla Haddow-Flood.

Haddow-Flood added that there are on average 100 times more geotagged articles in France than there are in Africa.

"Because of colonial constructs, people either contribute in English or don't celebrate their language by contributing in their own language," said Haddow-Flood. 

Cape Town has won the bid to host the 14th annual Wikimania 2018 conference.

This annual gathering of more than 700 volunteers from around the world is expected to celebrate Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects and discuss the future of Wikipedia and free knowledge.

Confirmed speakers include internet geographist Dr. Martin Dittus, Joy Buolamwini, a noted female Artificial Intelligence expert, and Prof. Sean Jacobs who focuses on trends in digital culture.

The Wikimania conference is set to run from July 18 to July 22.