[AfrICANN-discuss] Re: [africs-ig] Africa report

Mawaki Chango kichango at gmail.com
Tue May 28 22:33:10 SAST 2013

Ben, and all:

Could you please provide a link to the web page of the organization you're
referring to? There are many pages that respond to the name "Research in
Africa" a link would help disambiguate the search results.

Clearly we agree on the root of the problem being in the mindset you're
describing rather than the simple lack of data (after all that very mindset
might well be one of the causal factors why data may be lacking on some

Having said that, we need to go beyond publishing reports commissioned by
international/external donors as part of their programs/projects. It seems
to me the intended or natural audience for those reports are, or in any
case their audience is most of the time limited to, policy-makers and other
policy-driven actors. And unfortunately, unless another round of activities
is funded to package the findings help launch advocacy or campaign efforts,
etc. they are likely to die on the shelves or worse in the office drawers.

While we should keep making those efforts and pushing policy-makers to
embrace evidence-based policy making aided by those reports, it is in my
view crucial to invest also in academic research on those issues --not just
studies and reports, but sheer scholarly research. Because there is a wider
array of questions that academics are prepared to tackle and demonstrate
the relevance thereof (as opposed to studies that are designed as part of,
say, a charity or development organization-funded program). Because
research leads to an orderly accumulation of knowledge, and
research generates more research. Students and peers read the outcomes and
seek to critique it and to add their contribution (and this ripple effect
doesn't require that much additional funding.) And because once research
findings are recognized as valid by the community of peers, it is more
likely that they will raise questions wherever they apply, eg, to
policy-makers, and sparkle debates, which can in turn drive the public
attention, etc.

So this is my impassioned call ;) for all practitioners and all those
already in this field to make particular efforts to associate researchers,
particularly social science researchers (and further particularly the
younger ones who might be interested in new areas to specialize in), to
your relevant activities and proceedings. We could wait for them to come to
us but we are the ones closer to the field, so we can afford to be more
proactive and reach out to them knowing that to date there's no subject
area labeled internet governance in university curricula.


On Tue, May 28, 2013 at 12:28 PM, Ben Akoh <me at benakoh.com> wrote:

> Some organizations, eg Research in Africa are producing reports from
> primary data (because of the challenges of accessing both primary and
> secondary data) such as mawaki describes. A substantial amount of data and
> analysis of data already exists, although more needs to be done. However,
> the fundamental question pertains to a mindset that fails to read these
> reports or to associate research findings with policy action. It shouldn't
> be a report just for the sake of it!
> Sent from my iPhone
> On 2013-05-28, at 6:27 AM, Dandjinou Pierre <pdandjinou at gmail.com> wrote:
> Mawaki,
> You said it all ! collecting the information and documenting those
> relevant events as the ones Nnenna alludes to should be the focus. But this
> calls for resources (human and financial resources). The way some parts of
> the world do this is through regional organizations such as the European
> commission who commissioned (!!) appropriate studies and white papers.
> Our challenge here is how to get the Africa Union commission and other
> RECs interested.
>  Pierre
> On Tue, May 28, 2013 at 12:42 PM, Mawaki Chango <kichango at gmail.com>wrote:
>> All,
>> There is a lot to be done in Africa. So one might think it is even more
>> crucial here to bring in all segments of the society which can help improve
>> our understanding and practice. I totally agree that academia should be
>> invited in what we do at all levels. It doesn't matter how much you slice
>> this, you can't avoid education, training, research without a serious loss.
>> As recently as last year I was doing a survey in an African country and one
>> of my respondents working in a public research agency told me once she
>> asked to consult a document (which was not a government classified document
>> but has to do with some development issues in one sector of activity) at
>> another government agency, then after asking what exactly she was looking
>> for her colleague opened the corresponding pages for her to make note of,
>> while concealing the non-related contents. That's the mindset we're up
>> against. In many places, it is the very notion of collecting information
>> and making it easy to retrieve later on which is lacking. Believe it or
>> not, in some countries ICT-related policy documents are said to exist but
>> cannot be easily found by the public. For the medium and long-term there is
>> a need to educate and train information specialists, librarians, people
>> who are prepared to identify relevant data gathering opportunities and
>> sources and people who are prepared to systematically gather and curate
>> information, index it and make it easy to find and retrieve at any point in
>> the future. This can only help all researchers, academic or practitioners,
>> to do their job better as well as decision-makers, for that matter.
>> In any case, and particularly for the short term, the best we can do is
>> to gather raw data whenever possible, I agree with Nnenna on that (Reports
>> are just a means to build reference repositories for such data and there
>> may be other ways). The most important (and urgent) is to make sure the
>> data (as per the data points she just indicated) is available somewhere for
>> the public to access. Otherwise, how is one to debate cogently about the
>> geopolitics of the Internet in Africa without knowing which African
>> countries were there during relevant proceedings, which ones contributed
>> language, what their rationale was, what the different
>> positions among African countries are and which ones took which positions
>> and why, etc. A handful of people may be able to find out with a reasonable
>> time investment but most people, who might use that information for useful
>> things that we cannot even predict, won't be able to find it. Not to
>> mention that the more aware the public, the greater the benefits of the
>> debate.
>> So yes, we need to demonstrate more awareness for the necessity to
>> collect information and systematically document what we do and relevant
>> events, to associate academia and other researchers and work with them in
>> order to facilitate data collection and information retrieval for research
>> and policy analysis as well as for decision-making, policy-making and
>> public information.
>> Best,
>> Mawaki
>> On Tue, May 28, 2013 at 9:40 AM, Nnenna Nwakanma <nnenna75 at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> SM, all
>>>  I am talking about an Africa report directly in relation to the:
>>> WCIT - World Conference on Information Technology
>>> WTPF - World Telecommunications and ICT Policy Forum
>>> WSIS+10 - World Summit of Information SOciety + 10 meetings
>>> It is not about "what worked in a country" but rather the sum total of:
>>>    1. Which African countries contribted content
>>>    2. In which areas/domains were African countries working/interested
>>>    in
>>>    3. Which Countries had delegations
>>>    4. What commissions/committees of the policy rounds did they
>>>    chair/work on
>>>    5. What Ministers were present? What panels did they feature on?
>>>    What content did they contribute?
>>>    6. What engagements, what plans, what future..
>>>    All of that in the framework of global Internet/ICT Policy
>>> Best
>>> Nnenna
>>> On Tue, May 28, 2013 at 8:28 AM, SM <sm at resistor.net> wrote:
>>>> Hi Nnenna,
>>>> At 00:04 28-05-2013, Nnenna Nwakanma wrote:
>>>>> I honestly do believe that if we have an "Africa report" after each of
>>>>> these meetings, such will come in handy when we are planning for the future.
>>>> Replicating what worked in Country X does not work well.  The quality
>>>> of reports are in my opinion relatively low.  That might be due to research
>>>> constraints.  The reader would expect an Africa report to include as many
>>>> countries as possible.  Reports generally cover a few countries as case
>>>> studies and are extrapolated from there.
>>>> There isn't a breath of expertise as input; either the expertise is not
>>>> there, or it is untapped, or there is lack of interest.
>>>> Regards,
>>>> -sm
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> --
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