CGHR Director, Dr Sharath Srinivasan, and Head of Research and Development at Africa's Voices, Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes, have contributed to a data science policy briefing launched by the University of Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy at an international conference, Policy making in an era of big data, held in Cambridge on 15-17 June 2015.
The briefing also contains a piece by CGHR Research Associate Dr Ella McPherson and CGHR Associat Dr Anne Alexander on ethical implications that arise from distortions in social media data.
Africa's Voices has an exciting vacancy for a Chief Operating Officer based in Nairobi. This non-profit startup, spun out of CGHR research, uses media, technology and sophisticated analysis to amplify voices in the African continent (www.africasvoices.org). Please take a look at the job description and share widely.
For any questions, contact Weldon.
A new Interactive Radio Toolkit designed by Internews Center for Innovation & Learning, in partnership with CGHR, and based on CGHR's research on Politics and Interactive Media in Africa (PiMA), has been launched to help radio hosts learn how to be a conduit for community voices, and boost their own ratings and success as a result.
The website for Africa’s Voices – the non-profit start-up, spun-out of CGHR research – is now live.
Africa’s Voices harnesses mobile technology and interactive media to help organisations understand, engage with and respond to target audiences. Visit the new website to learn more about its work.
How interactive radio is reshaping politics in Africa - audio interview with CGHR Director, Dr Sharath Srinivasan
In this audio interview, recorded at the World Radio Day SOAS event in February, CGHR Director Dr Sharath Srinivasan talks about the powerful combination of interactive radio and mobile phones as a force for political change in East Africa.
CGHR Director, Dr Sharath Srinivasan, and Research Associate Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes are to speak at a World Radio Day talk and trade fair at SOAS on Friday 13th February.
UNESCO's World Radio Day is a day to celebrate radio as a medium, to improve international cooperation between broadcasters, and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, and free, independent and pluralistic media. The topic of the 4th World Radio Day is Radio and Youth.
To celebrate, the event at SOAS will present some of the latest research and projects using Radio in Public Health, Political Participation, Education and Freedom of Expression and Communication in Africa and around the world.
Dr Srinivasan and Dr Lopes are speaking on public consultation and political participation in Africa using mobile phones and interactive radio.
Listen to Dr Sharath Srinivasan speaking about big data and Africa's Voices on BBC World Service's The Forum.
Working with IBM's new Africa research lab, Africa's Voices has helped develop a radio engagement model that is part of a new IBM initiative to contain the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Read the full story.
Cambridge University asks journalist Becky Allen to report on CGHR's collaboration with IBM Research Africa Lab on turning PiMA/Africa's Voices research into impact. Read the article.
CGHR Director Sharath Srinivasan will be speaking at Voice and Matter: the fourth annual Communication for Development event taking place at Roskilde University in September 2014.
The 4 day event is a mixture of academic conference and cultural festival, open to anyone with an interest in Communication for Development. Registration is open until the 31st August and available here.
Dr Srinivasan will be appearing on a panel to discuss ICT for development and citizen engagement, to address this year's theme: the concepts of voice and matter. He will present on insights from CGHR projects: Africa's Voices and PiMA (Politics and Interactive Media in Africa).
A preliminary programme is available to download here.
'Africa's Voices: Using mobile phones and radio to foster mediated public discussion and to gather public opinions in Africa' - working paper now published online
The latest in CGHR's Working Paper series is now available to read online. Co-authored by Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes and
Dr Sharath Srinivasan, the paper's publication marks the conclusion of the applied pilot phase of the Africa's Voices project.
The paper can be accessed here, and the abstract is reproduced below.
This paper presents the findings from a one-year applied research pilot project, Africa's Voices, run by the University of Cambridge's Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR). Africa's Voices developed out of CGHR's wider research programme on politics, ICTs and interactive media in Africa. That research analyses how audiences interact with radio stations through mobile phones; how different actors including audiences, radio journalists, and governance actors (state officials, but also others such as community leaders and aid actors) perceive the importance of these interactions; and what the practical implications are for public discussion of political and social issues and for governance processes that shape access to and the quality of public goods. With Africa's Voices, the CGHR research team piloted a programme format with local radio stations in eight sub-Saharan African countries with the objective of practically assessing the potential for deploying interactive radio to gather and comparatively analyse opinions of harder to reach sub-Saharan African populations. Besides evaluating optimal modes of working with smaller and more rural radio stations, the research has focused on patterns of audience participation in different formats of mediated public discussions and on the efficacy of different approaches to defining, gathering and measuring public opinion. This paper presents the results of the pilot and discusses them with respect to the abovementioned objectives. The paper also discusses some of the methodological and ethical challenges of using the affordances of ICT and interactive media that make them suitable for gathering and researching citizens' opinion in Africa.
Following the successful pilot of the Africa's Voices research project, a team of four MBA students from the Cambridge Judge Business School has been analysing the sustainability of the project as an ongoing social enterprise. After a week spent in Cambridge undertaking a literature review, the team spent three weeks in Nairobi, meeting with various parties including the UN, DFID and a number of local radio stations.
After extensive evidence collection and hypothesis testing, the team came to the conclusion that there is significant value to be captured in this space for the right enterprise. In the first instance, there is potential for the scoping, measuring and evaluation of NGO and aid projects but also for a much wider public engagement and research agenda. The team were highly optimistic about the potential for a successful spin-off from the Africa's Voices project.
A version of the final presentation is available on the CGHR website here.
Africa's Voices social enterprise spin-off: Team from Judge Business School start work on business case development
CGHR is pleased to be working with students from the Cambridge Judge Business School to research and develop a business case for a social enterprise spin-off to the Africa's Voices project. The Centre's pilot project is seeking to move to a more sustainable footing, as an independent organisation. A team of MBA students will be working towards the development of a potential social enterprise business model to ensure longevity of operational, technological and research development.
The team will be travelling to Nairobi in March where they will meet with radio and media partners, potential users of a newly developed platform and those already operating in the field. Read more about this, the next stage of the Africa's Voices project, here.
Twenty African, journalists from Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya, will be visiting Cambridge in April and will taking the chance to meet with researchers to discuss their work on Africa and share ideas. The visit will provide CGHR research associates with a valuable opportunity to engage in discussion with and find out the journalists' views on the Centre's Africa's Voices and PiMA projects.
The journalists' visit to Cambridge is taking place as part of the Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA) programme, which is run from Cambridge and educates African journalists about how bioscience can impact farming in Africa. As part of the programme, the journalists pass the knowledge they gain onto local communities in Africa via radio programmes.
The intersection of IBM's research interests and those of CGHR have been demonstrated by the proposed cooperation between the Centre and the newly launched IBM Research Africa laboratory in Nairobi. The Centre's Director Dr Srinivasan visited the lab to discuss with the team there the role of cognitive computing in Africa's development.
IBM Research has been developing their study of cognitive computing: systems that learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either man or machine could do on their own. They help human experts make better decisions by penetrating the complexity of "big data."
Dr Srinivasan will bring to the collaboration an emphasis on how contextual social science research must accompany the use of cognitive computer systems when attempting to gain a deeper understanding of "big data."
Dr Srinivasan and Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes present on Africa's Voices at King's/Cambridge-Africa Seminar Series
Centre Director Dr Sharath Srinivasan and CGHR Research Associate Claudia Abreu Lopes presented on CGHR's pilot study, Africa's Voices, at a November meeting of the King's/Cambridge-Africa Seminar Series. The Cambridge-Africa Programme providing a forum for Africa-focused Cambridge researchers across a range of subject areas to share their work with colleagues researching similar interests.
Speaking on the subject of Africa's digital communications revolution, Dr Srinivasan and Dr Abreu Lopes drew on insights from the pilot to outline how the Centre is exploring ways to innovate technologically and methodologically to reconceptualise and analyse ‘public opinion’ in ways that value voices in their natural forms of expression. With industry collaborations (IBM Research Lab Africa, FrontlineSMS, Internews), CGHR is developing an innovative new social research platform that can be used by practitioners, policymakers and researchers.
Africa’s Voices is an applied research project at CGHR, and part of a wider research programme on ‘African politics and the digitally-mediated public sphere’. During its pilot year, Africa’s Voices worked with 9 radio stations in eight African countries, gathering and analysing SMS texts on interactive shows on agreed topics. You can read more about the project here.
“Developing a new method for opinion polling in Africa”: Applied collaboration with YouGov-Cambridge programme
As part of their Cambridge Programme, YouGov is collaborating with CGHR on the Africa’s Voices applied pilot. In her piece “Developing a new method for opinion polling in Africa”, written for the YouGov-Cambridge Programme website, Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes details how the project works, the methodology involved and the challenges that the team has encountered.
Dr Sharath Srinivasan and Dr Alastair Fraser have been awarded £10,000 and £5,000 respectively by the Cambridge-Africa Alborada Research Fund for research collaborations with colleagues in Kenya and Zambia. News of the award was announced in the September edition of the Politics Studies Association’s PSA newsletter. The awards given to Dr Sharath Srinivasan and Dr Alastair Fraser will allow them to expand their current work on PiMA and the Africa’s Voices pilot project.
ICTs and radio in Africa: How the uptake of ICT has influenced the newsroom culture among community radio journalists (Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes, Telematics and Informatics)
CGHR associate Claudia Abreu Lopes has co-authored an article with Goretti Linda Nassanga of the Makere University, Uganda and Linje Manyozo of London School of Economics and Political Science, England, which is now published in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics.
This article highlights the influence that new ICTs and Computer Mediated Communication is having on the newsroom cultures among community radio journalists in Africa, especially the use of mobile phones and the internet. The discussion is based on findings from a research study that investigated the impact of ICTs on community radio using regional case studies from three African countries – Mozambique, Uganda, and Mali. Article access (gated) here.
We are now in the process of running round 5 and 6 of Africa's Voices with partnering radio stations.
Round 5 question: "Which one of these two diseases do you fear most? AIDS or malaria? Why?"
Round 6 question: "Do you think a 16-year old girl [local fictional name] should interrupt her education to get married to help the family of should continue her studies to seek a better future for her and her family? Why?" (a scenario with the details of a story is presented)
Florence Brisset-Foucault and Sharath Srinivasan of the research team have visited radio stations in Zambia and Uganda. A new blog post on their experiences and the stations is now available on the s FrontlineSMS:Radio website.