A Whirlwind of Events: #NAD2018, #NEFScienceWeek, #FIFAfrica18, #MIASA

The fall semester has just started and that means it is like a new year for us academics. I have decided to go back to a paper calendar to make sure I do not overbook myself (when the space for a day is filled, my day is filled!). However, September was slightly overfilled anyways. But with some great events:

#NAD2018

Nordic Africa Days is a biannual conference organized by the Nordic Africa Institute. It is my “home conference” as a Swedish researched in Ghana and I have been attending since 2007!

This year, I organized a panel session with my colleague Michael Boampong called Conceptualizing Youth Mobilities and presented a paper within it.

 

#NEFScienceWeek

Next Einstein forum contacted me about moderating a panel which proved to be very interesting where industry representative Ethel Cofie or Women in Tech/ Edel Consulting Ltd met education representative Dr. Patrick Arthur from University on Ghana on the gap between STEM education and industry. Some highlights from the conversations:

  • Review primary education to make sure we educate producers (eg. programmers), not consumers (eg. users of Word and PowerPoint).
  • Make sure the higher education sector is wired for innovation by having incentive structures not just for peer-reviewed journal articles, but also for innovation/entrepreneurial initiative.

  • #NEFScienceWeek

#FIFAfrica18

Forum for Internet Freedom in Africa organized by CIPESA and MFWA is something I luckily happened to come across as I was doing research for a new project I have initiated on Internet Freedom and Internet Shutdowns. It turned out the experts were on their way to Accra! The same week as finding out about this conference, I was able to join its last afternoon. It was a fantastic networking opportunity and the sessions I visited launched reports like The State of Internet Freedom in Africa and the Internet Universality Indicators, discussed how to measure Internet Shutdowns and how to advocate effectively for them not happening.

#MIASA

The Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa funded by the German government had its inaugural conference at University of Ghana – I only made it to the very final and concluding session. The institute has planned for some interdisciplinary and interesting studies investigating big issues, from the concluding presentation, however, I worry that the research groups and methods seemed to already have been decided in Germany and that could mean the so-called collaboration in actual fact is only a satellite department of a German institution coming to Ghana. I hope I am wrong…

My paper calendar…

…is that beautiful blue book with gold details. On the inside it gives me a full week’s overview and just enough space to list my meetings and main to-dos for each day. I realize it is less stressful to have a finite space for planning my time.

How do you make sure your days and weeks are not overfilled, but allow for quality work and breathing pauses?

My Week: Teach, Do Research and Work-Family Balance?

This week, I have a demanding and varied set of tasks ahead.

Monday, I will be welcoming guests to Ashesi University from Kenyon College, Ohio, US (Their 2020 plan is interesting and impressive). I am the Global Liberal Arts Alliance liaison for my institution and the visit is happening as part of that alliance. I will also be working on a research project on social media in the Ghanaian elections with a  colleague to-be-presented at the upcoming African Studies AS-AA conference end of this month. I have a phone call related to the upcoming Uppsala University Global Alumni Day, I am part of organizing in Accra next month (UU alumn? Register here). Monday evening we have the Town Hall meeting at Ashesi for the fall semester.

Tuesday and Thursday I am teaching Written and Oral Communication at Ashesi to 80 Freshmen. This week, we will be talking about referencing in academic writing and how to use technology like Grammarly to write better. I will also grade their reflection paper. You can follow the course on social media under the hashtag #AshWOC. See posts for instance on Twitter. Instagram.

Wednesday, I’ll be working on a research project on higher education in Ghana and increasing university fees. I have a research assistant who is a former student and we have a meeting with an administrator at Ashesi who I think can help us. In the evening farewell dinner with the Kenyon delegation.

Friday morning, I will be talking to high school students at SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College here in Tema about diversity, using my own life as a starting point. I will also have a phone conversation with my mentor. In the afternoon, I will pick my daughters up from school. I am aiming at having a balance between my professional and family life, but rarely have time to pick them up from school, so value this opportunity to spend time with them and connect with their teachers.

Saturday and Sunday I will lay flat! Or something very similar like floating in a pool, resting in a hammock, or watching cookies rise in the oven.

What is your week like?

My Week Following The @Sweden Curatorship Experience, #SMWiAccra

So last week, I had the honor of being the curator of the twitter account @Sweden. With a click, I increased my following by 10 and was the seven-day temporary face of my native Sweden. In a tropical setting. I thought I’d sum up my experience and also share what this week, following all the excitement, was like.

Monday, I woke up sick, with a swollen (!) nose. Had I been in a fist fight? The doctor said it was rather a sinusitis infection in my nose and I was on antibiotics before I knew it. I am not sure it was the curator experience that made me sick, but it was a day lost to pain and rest.

Tuesday, my children both started their new school. I accompanied and excited three-year-old to Nursery school and my husband took our six-year-old to Primary 1.

My school girls! ????? #maryjane #sisters #schooluniforms #mahjong #vamlingbolaget #233moments

A post shared by Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) on

On Wednesday, I was well enough to share some of my thoughts about the @Sweden experience on the Citi Breakfast Show on Ghanaian radio station Citi FM. IN an interview with the brilliant Bernard Avle, I talked about 

  • Traffic (I was late to the studio)
  • Knowing my audience
  • Missing my TL
  • Thinking about Swedishness
  • Wanting to be a Ghanaian citizen

Find the full program here, I come on around 9.40am.

In the afternoon, I met with a researcher, Hanne Geirbo from the interesting research project Learning Flexibility. We spoke about social media activism, solar energy adoption and strategies for infrastructure challenges.

Last, I attended the Social Media Week Accra, and was a speaker under the heading “Social Media: The Ghana Case”.

I tried to give a quick overview of how blogging has developed in Ghana since BloggingGhana started in 2008, but also to critique the use of social media as heavily entertainment, one way, consumeristic instead of appreciating the true revolution of social media and harnessing the promise of social change. I suggested we support each-other ventures more, create and use more hashtags to curate content and campaigns, we produce more content.

On Thursday, I met with my Ashesi students for the first time. Ambitious, fresh-faced future leaders make me so happy. I also finalized the contract with two final year students who I will supervise on their papers. Two very interesting projects, I will tell you more about later.

Today, Friday is for research and preparing for next week. I will also fit in some meetings. This evening, I’ll be seeing my friend to celebrate her birthday.

 

I feel like this week was as intense and interesting as last week, but I was back on my own social media accounts and I had missed the people I am following and learning from. The Sweden curatorship, made me rethink what I publish and how much I share my personal life. While I have a high sense of integrity, and usually post quite minimal “this was my day”, “this is my breakfast”- content, I now think there is also value to sharing more personal details and life circumstances as that goes to the heart of the prospects of social media: bringing people closer together by showing how diverse and how similar we all are.

Do you think it’s useful or interesting to read about other people’s daily lives?

Where is Africa on Open Data? Some answers from #AODC17

African Open Data Conference 2017, or #AODC17 for short, was a five-day affair in Accra last week (or up to a week if you included some pre and post arrangements). I was there for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly because that is what my schedule allowed, but also because those days had the least of high-level dialogue – which is often not very productive – and I was more interested in African Open Data on the ground.

My observations:

1. The field of open data is exploding, the conference was a major to-do with buy in from Ghana’s president and many international organizations as well as several hundred delegates.

2. The networking was out of this world, among the most interesting people I met were academics Umaru Bah,  Jeanne Holm, activists from BudgITng and Connected Development, blogger Chioma Agwuegbo, tweeps  …students…old friends like Nnenna Nwakanma of World Wide Web Foundation, Nehemiah Attigah of Odekro (links for organizations or linked in profiles), Dorothy Gordon…

3. The individuals involved in Open Data are in much renaissance people, it is programmers-entrepreneurs-governance experts, professors-public servants, accountants-activists, story tellers-national security etc. I felt at home and got inspired to stop forcing expertise and continue on my “wide” career.

4. The base level of what constitute best practices in the open data space is not yet set, exemplified by that Government of Ghana can sponsor such a conference and yet not have passed the rather basic Right to Information bill (I learned at #AODC17 similar have been passed already by Nigeria: Freedom of Information, and Sierra Leone for instance). GovLab‘s “periodic table” (interactive link or see below) of Open Data captures what is needed beautifully. I just have one question: Now how do we go from talk shop to action?

 

5. The events held about town were a good attempt at integrating the conference objectives with its surroundings, so to speak opening the data of the conference, something often overlooked in conferences.

In all, these were intense days for me, days I feel have impacted my life in a number of important ways both with inspiration, and network. See tweets and next steps/links below.

Tweets from #AODC17

 


 

Next steps

Imagining Africa at the Center: #ASA2016

This week, I am off to the 59th African Association Annual Meeting, this time held in Washington DC with the theme Imagining Africa at the Centre: Bridging Scholarship, Policy, and Representation in African Studies. 

It will be my third African Studies conference this year after DakarFutures2016 and this summer’s GlobalGhana in Cape Coast. I also enjoyed last year’s ASA in San Diego. So, I am looking forward and over the next week I will be taking in as much as I possibly can on academic talks, networking sessions, book exhibits and also Washington DC! I am especially excited to meet up with a special person from DakarFutures working at the renowned Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and a new contact from Wikimedia Foundation. I’ll also visit Ghanaian Designer David Adjaye’s new National Museum of African American History & Culture, also in the Smithsonian Museum Park (photo from NMAAHC below, I believe it is the brown box next to the Washington Monument).

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural Photrography
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture 

At the ASA2016 meeting, I will for sure be spotted when presenting a paper on higher education together with colleagues from the Ghana Studies Association and when I chair a so called Africa NOW! session on the ongoing election season in Ghana. Details below!

Panel: Debating the Quality and Relevance of (Higher) Education in Ghana

Fri 2 Dec, VIII-D-1  4pm.

My Work: Data for and from the Higher Education Sector in Ghana

In an era of knowledge economies and sustainable development, the importance of higher education has reemerged (Mkandawire, 2015; Teferra, 2014). However, current data on higher education institutions (HEI) in Africa is not easily available in terms of basic descriptive data on institutions, research output, faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

This paper is a first report from a case study to understand data collection in and analysis of the higher education sector in Ghana, a country that has a mix of public and private higher education. The methodology is literature review and interviews with key stakeholders to clarify the role in collecting and managing HE data by international university associations, GOG/ministry of education, state institutions, quality assurance bodies, and  – on a local level – universities.

Data and analyses hold promise for nurturing this important sector, especially since the sector is growing quickly and is centrally placed politically. Two factors that also mean data ages quickly. For instance, the rise of private higher education since the 1990s provides an almost unmapped terrain in terms of data. With a decolonial approach, I argue that data on HEI must be open and free, but also made a government priority to solve the sustainability issues of collecting data and crafting relevant indicators for strategic and sustainable development of the higher education sector on the continent.

 

Africa NOW! Democratic Gains from Election Season 2016 in Ghana

Panel Introduction and Open Discussion Sat 3 Dec, 9-10 am in meeting room “Maryland A”. 

Ghana is seen as a beacon of hope for the democratization process on the continent and has managed to consolidate its democracy further with each election since 1992. There has been peaceful handing over of power in 2000 and 2008, a contested election in 2012 which was settled peacefully in the supreme court. This year, several new developments including reforms, which have led to that only seven parties are contesting the presidential seat have taken place, Ghana also has a new Electoral Commissioner, Charlotte Osei, replacing Kwadwo Afari-Djan who served as the Chair of the Electoral Commission 1993 to 2015.

The surrounding world has also changed since the last elections, notably with terrorism threats closer to home with the attack on Cote D’Ivoire’s Grand Bassam, in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon. Further, oil and commodity prices are at an all time low. Many countries in Africa are experiencing power shortages and Ghana in no exception. The US elections have also been extensively discussed in Ghana to the point of almost overshadowing a local debate.

Further, an important role in the relative democratic success in Ghana is played by media and civil society monitoring the electoral process. Many laudable initiatives providing platforms for education and debate have been implemented. This year, the threat of limiting the freedom of speech by for instance monitoring online conversations and shutting social media down during the elections which is has been discussed under the so called “spy bill” and by the Inspector General of the Police Service, have added another important issue to address by the civil society.

With this background, this panel will discuss what can be expected from the general elections on December 7, 2016, especially in terms of democratic gains or losses.

Panelists: Dr. Kajsa Hallberg Adu, Ashesi University (convener), Dr. Jeffrey Paller, University of San Fransisco, Prof. Gretchen Bauer, University of Delaware, and you!

Sunday Reads from Nigeria to Nobel Prize, #KajsaHASundayReads

sundayreadsThis week I read:

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist manifesto, this time on how to raise a feminist daughter. All of it was on point, personally, I especially found the hair section (10) useful having two daughters who get to hear their hair is “katcha-katcha” if not braided.
  2. Turkey Blocks Google Drive Drop Box, One drive and GitHub to stop email leaks. An example of governments blocking Internet sites in a trial of getting hold on control. (but it doesn’t work).
  3. Virtual Reality in Africa. Former Ashesi student Jonathan Dotse of Nubian VR quoted.
  4. Did you know Bill Gates is also a blogger? Here is his latest (fab) post on what political leadership can do to accelerate innovation. (Spoiler alert: Energy is his top issue)

This Swedish article I wish was available in English for all (ok, more folks) to read:

5. Quite varying reactions to the choice of Bob Dylan for the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

This week I watched this video, because, well it was everywhere:


 

6. I also calmed myself down with the following Nigerian reactions on social media, presented by one of Nigeria’s biggest bloggers Linda Ikeji. 

 This post is part of my #KajsaHASundayReads series. Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Blattman,  I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. 

KajsaHA on AccraWeDey Podcast

A few weeks back, podcast AccraWeDey – Ghana’s only culture an entertainment podcast – was invited to speak at a BloggingGhana meeting. Out of that event, a friendship has developed between BloggingGhana and AccraWeDey that on Sunday resulted in me being invited to be the special guest in the podcast!

IMG_2774

I spoke and laughed with Pokuaa and Joey and towards the end Nii (who had trouble finding a taxi on a quiet Sunday night) about blogging, kelewele, colonization and many other things. I also got super inspired to start my own podcast…
IMG_2776 IMG_2781

 

 

 

The description of Season 2 Episode 7 goes:

Screenshot 2016-02-27 00.14.51

Why the episode is called “Are You Sure?” Well, if you listen, you will know!

>>> You can download or stream the episode here.

Speaker at the ASME 2015

ASME2015 Kajsa-Hallberg-AduI have been invited to speak at the Vodafone African SME Summit 2015. The summit takes place 5-7 November, 2015 and has the theme; “Dreaming Africa”.

 

I will be speaking from the BloggingGhana/Social Media perspective in the panel called “Changing the conversation on Africa’s media front” on Thursday 5 Nov, 2.05-2.45pm  My co-panelists are Bernard Avle, CitiFm and Teophilus Yartey, Graphic Business.

Other speakers are Emmanuel Gamor of Impact Accra Hub, Nana Akosua Hanson of YFM, and Frederick Deegbe, Heel The World Shoes and many more!

I will share my slides here after my presentation.

Hope to see you there!

Screenshot 2015-11-03 12.03.47

My Week: Typically and Specifically

A typical week: Mondays and Wednesdays are teaching days. This semester I teach Ashesi’s introduction to academic writing and presentation: Written and Oral Communication. I leave home early, arrive to campus just after 9 AM, I see students and prep before class, eat an early lunch, teach between 11.50 AM and 3 PM and then have office hours with students in need of help, meet colleagues, and do grading.

Tuesdays often end up as recuperation after the long and winding Monday, but I also use them to catch up on longer term planning and check mail on this day. Thursdays are my grading and reading days and Fridays are my meeting days, sometimes on, some times off campus.

On Saturdays, I take my daughter to drama class and myself attend yoga. Sundays are mostly spent around the house and garden with family.

Specifically, this coming week: I know we have a birthday party in the weekend, there is also an interesting concert. On Friday, there is a faculty meeting on campus on Friday, which means I will be on campus three days this week (tomorrow Monday depending on the well being of my child with malaria!) My main project outside of work is BloggingGhana and working with the GhanaDecides team to find money for next year’s project. That means proposal writing and meetings, likely both, this week!