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Conference: 'The New African Democracy: Information Technology and Political Participation'

John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1 and 2 May 2012.

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) are helping to advance political participation and social movements in Africa. The use of ICTs for democratic participation and government accountability offer exciting new possibilities that are changing politics and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The recent North African revolutions have shown that rising ICT connectivity can facilitate political and social movements, placing new pressures and demands on autocracies and democracies alike. A major conference organized by the African Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will examine these trends and their implications. The meeting will bring together experts and policymakers to discuss challenges and opportunities for African politics in the digital age. Dr. Iginio Gagliardone of CGHR will present research at the conference.

The Use of ICTs for Political Mobilization and Participation in Sub-Saharan Africa

On Jan 25 the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP), Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, hosted the first seminar of the series on “Media and Governance in Developing Countries” presenting the project on ICT and governance in Africa in a roundtable discussion with Dr. Sharath Srinivasan (University of Cambridge), Dr. Florence Brisset-Foucault (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Iginio Gagliardone (University of Oxford).

Conference: Beyond revolutions: the use of ICTs for political mobilisation and participation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Cambridge, 11 November 2011.

On 11 November 2011 CGHR and The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) gathered scholars from different disciplines ranging from anthropology and politics to computer science, to examine the ability of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to affect and transform governance processes in Africa. The conference built on the success of the conference “New Media|Alternative Politics: Communication technologies and political change in the Middle East and Africa” organised by CGHR and CRASSH and in October 2010. The ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions taking place in North Africa since the beginning of 2011 have stressed the imperative for research exploring the potential of ICTs for political change. The conference in November helped to extend this research agenda, exploring how ICTs are affecting and possibly transforming the nature of political mobilization and participation across Africa. Videos from the conference are available here.

A Quiet Media Revolution? Mediatization, altered media geographies and insurgent citizen tactics.
Prof. Thomas Tufte (Roskilde University)

Right to Information & Accountability: New Challenges in the Digital Era.
Dr P.B. Anand (Bradford University)

Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA) 2011 Conference: Innovation, Development and Human Capabilities

The Hague, 5-8 September 2011.

CGHR presented at the HDCA conference on ‘SMS and interactive radio in Africa: researching how innovation in communication technologies can expand citizens’ political capabilities’. The focus of this year’s conference profoundly resonated with CGHR’s efforts to understand how innovation and creativity in the use of ICTs can transform governance processes in Africa and beyond. CGHR’s paper offered insight into an innovative framework building on the capability approach to explore the contributions that ICTs, as multi-purpose technologies, can offer to the unique forms of governance characterising Sub-Saharan Africa. It also contributed to the debate on how qualitative techniques can contribute to operationalise certain aspects of the capability approach and expand its breadth.

Workshop: ICTs and governance in Africa: What is changing and how we can we study the changes?

Nairobi, 18-19 August 2011.

The Centre of Governance and Human Rights organised a workshop on the 18th and 19th of August in Nairobi, Kenya exploring different approaches to researching ICTs and governance in Africa. The workshop offered an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to reflect on the tools and practices that can be used to investigate how citizens seek to use ICTs to influence governance, and to propose approaches that can guide both research and new applications. Day One consisted of a series of one-hour sessions where presenters gave an overview of their research agenda, frameworks and findings, and received feedback from the participants. On day two, selected individuals took stock from the discussion to propose ways forward and combinations of different methods for analysing the implications of innovative uses of ICTs on governance processes. The workshop summary report will be made available soon. Speakers included:

  • Dr. Iginio Gagliardone (University of Cambridge)
  • Tara Susman-Peña (Internews)
  • Tim Waema (University of Nairobi)
  • Margaret Nyambura Ndung'u (University of Nairobi)
  • Vincenzo Cavallo (Cultural Video Foundation)
  • Mark Frohardt (Internews)
  • Eva Constantaras (Internews)

Conference: New Media|Alternative Politics: Communication technologies and political change in the Middle East and Africa

Cambridge, October 2010.


Deliberating New Media: creating alternative politics in the Middle East and Africa?The spread of digital technologies in the Middle East and Africa has generated the view that 'new media' open up political spaces for dissent, activism and emancipation. In October 2010, CGHR and CRASSH convened a conference“New Media|Alternative Politics” that brought together researchers, academics, activists, journalists and policy makers to discuss whether and how new media empower an alternative politics and mobilises political change. Five cross-cutting themes were discussed:

  • Amy Saunderson-Meyer (Freedom Fone), Herman Wasserman (Rhodes University), Firoze Manji (Pambazuka News)

  • Mediating conflict and dissent

    Herman Wasserman (Rhodes University), “Of glasses half full: exploratory notes towards the role of new media technologies in democratic politics in South Africa”

    Nduku Otiono (University of Alberta), “From Urban Sphere to Cyber Space: New Media, Citizen Journalism and the Role of ‘Sahara Reporters’ in Nigeria’s Political Struggle”

    Adi Kuntsman (University of Manchester) and Rebecca Stein (Duke University), “Another War Zone:Digital Media and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

  • Engaging new audiences, contesting old power

    Amy Saunderson-Meyer (Freedom Fone), “Resisting the repression of media freedom in Zimbabwe”

    Harri Englund (University of Cambridge), “Rethinking audience engagement

    Dombo Sylvester (University of Zimbabwe), “Alternative or subversive? ‘Pirate’ Radio Stations and the Opening of Spaces of Freedom and Alternative Politics in Zimbabwe, 2000-2010”

  • New media and global designs on local politics

    Firoze Manji (Pambazuka News), “All that glistens is not always gold: Experiences of new media technologies in Africa”

    Michael Keating (University of Massachusetts Boston), “Wiring the 2011 Liberian Presidential Elections: New opportunities of international collaboration in media practice”

    Peter Brett (School of Oriental and African Studies), “Media (new and old) and the transnational governance of African public spheres”

  • Political agency and networked publics

    Okoth Fred Mudhai (University of Coventry), “African Civil Society Challenge of Ruling Elite via New Media”

    Alexandra Dunn (University of Oslo), “Public as Politician? Improvised hierarchies of participatory influence in the April 6th Youth Movement Facebook Group”

Convenors: Anne Alexander, Sharath Srinivasan. More information, a conference report and working papers can be found here.