The Swedes and the Internet 2023 – Privacy, Generational Gaps and Podcasts

Our lives these days are extensively lived online, this is where we work, socialize, learn about the world, “or bake a cake” as Internetstiftelsen (The Swedish Internet Foundation) said in the opening of their yearly, much-awaited, report launch of “The Swedes and the Internet 2023”. I wasn’t alone, 6000 others attended the launch this morning, but if you were not one of them, here are some of my fresh takeaways:

1?? Almost all Swedes are online every day (91%) and use digital identification (93%) (which is basically monopolized, not very safe!)

2?? Swedes are very positive toward police access to private conversations, and cameras with face recognition in public spaces (possibly due to increased violence) but against employers checking social media. There seems to be a “not in my backyard”-Internet thing going on here…

3?? Different generations use different social media platforms. Favorites in the older generations are YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram (a big share of youth do not use Facebook and Instagram at all) while Snapchat, Tiktok and Roblox are important platforms for “born in the 2000s”. Based on this, are you “old” or “young”?

4?? 3/10 Swedes have used an AI tool like Chat GPT, DallE, Midjourney, Grammarly. If you break it down by age, there is a definite gap as 6/10 in the age group 18-34 years have used an AI tool.

5?? Podcast listening in Sweden is still on the increase and public service has transitioned well there!


Much more to discover in the rich report. Read a summary in English or the full report in Swedish (PDF).

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On the Twitter LinkedIn Index for Scientists (#TwiLiIndex)

I am one of the 100 most followed scientists in Sweden on Twitter and LinkedIn in 2022, just below public scholars Agnes Wold and Robert Egnell. I came in on a sweet 23 spot!

My entry in the index.

What is this index?

The Scientists on Social Media rating was developed by journalist and social media specialist Mike Young. It is called the #TwiLiIndex (pronounced “twiligh index”).

I was not the only one from my institution. No from KTH Royal Institute of Technology the colleagues on the index (their ratings in brackets) were Tigran Haas (20), Ricardo Vinuesa (25), Eva Hartell (56), Lucie Delemotte (68), and Cecilia Hermansson (86). I am organizing a learning lunch for us to meet in person and am looking forward to hearing about my colleagues’ best practises, strategies and ideas.

Online presence for scholars

There is an ongoing debate within the research community if social media presence is important as a way of disseminating knowledge. If so, it should be included in our job description. The other side sees social media engagement as unimportant “fluff”. Perhaps it is only for researchers who have nothing better to do. There is also the aspect what having a “personal brand” does with us as researchers. Not to speak of our place in the world as observers. Are we just helping publishers and employers make more money in a world where fixed employment has become elusive and rare? Is an argument for instance discussed here by Johanna Arnesson (Swe).

Of course, I feel it is very important to have a presence online, as it is a way to reach out with research findings, but also provide perspectives from my corner on current events or debates. However increasingly I feel conflicted that we publicly funded scholars engage on platforms owned by for-profit entities, far from the public, democratic agoras we were hoping for when I started my engagement online with first this blog, an account on Facebook and then organization for bloggers some 15 years ago.

Here I’d like to be a bit critical of my researcher colleagues. This hot debate makes some academics comfortably hide and not use the available tools to communicate with the world outside academia. Thus the fact that I am on this list with moderate effort means many of my researcher colleagues are not. Or if they are they are not maximizing their presence, for instance by sharing only in Swedish and thus followed mostly in Sweden which is a small market.

Whats next?

Next month, I am meeting with KTH colleagues to discuss best practises on social media.

After a three year period of slowing down my use of social media, I have started to again tweet (mostly live-tweet from interesting events in English) and blog. I am also increasing postings on LinkedIn especially on career related issues.

Slowly, slowly, and this is the first time I say so publicly, I am starting a communications agency with a focus on the academic sector. Reach out if you want my help!

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Knowing The Dreams Of Young People Is Important

I wrote an article for The Conversation, a place where academics can write based on their research for larger audiences, called “Understanding Ghana’s students is key to fixing the country”. The inspiration was the Fix The Country protests that have been ongoing for months in Ghana.

I opened with some background,

“A great many African countries had shown steady economic growth in the decade prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But all have failed to adequately create opportunities for the young people in their countries. With growing youth populations, creating paths for education and employment is a make or break issue for the continent.

But there’s also good news. Many young people are getting access to secondary education and an increasing number also university education. An increasing share of youth in Africa are university students, 9% in 2018.

In today’s knowledge economy, university students carry a key role in development. They are therefore an important group to study and understand better.”

My study on migration aspirations of university students in Ghana showed there were indeed interest in going abroad for at least on year, especially for studies. However a majority of respondents also wanted to return, and some (8%) also were not at all interested in living abroad. My main point in the article is that knowing the dreams and aspirations of young people is important in policy planning.

Similarly, a New African Magazine article series African Youth Speaks made room for African youth to speak their truth with the following motivation

“It is the responsibility of the older, more mature segment of a society to prepare the ground for the youth to thrive by providing quality education, training, mentoring, guidance, encouragement, sympathy and love and affection to the young, who have their own growing-up demons to deal with in addition to other forms of personal development. If this is lacking, the youth are cast adrift. “

Wachira Warukira, photo from Waruks Productions.

Kenyan music producer Wachira Warukira, writes in New African Magazine about how Covid hit his dream and business:

“I had started my music studio in July 2019. As with any other business, the first 5-6 months were awful, and I could barely break even. Like many other Kenyan young entrepreneurs, I was looking for loans, but nobody really supports a start-up.

With the new restrictions, which included the need to ‘work from home’, things changed quite rapidly. As a music producer, I had to have the artist in the studio physically. With the curfew laws, I lost all my clients.”

When this happened, I was one of the people Wachira called as he is an old student of mine. We talked about possible solutions in the meantime and he started applying for jobs. In the special Issue, Wachira admirably writes:

“After a few months of applying for jobs and getting rejected, I went back to the drawing board and came up with a hybrid business plan that allows me to either work with artists on site or online. I am still working hard to sustain the business, but I can say one thing for sure: my dream did not die. It just got better, and I will keep looking for ways to survive in this new normal. “

Wachira’s personal conclusion is similar to the findings of my research, that African youth are not “opting out” by migrating. Rather they are craving opportunities and making deliberate plans to be able to contribute and build at home.

Want to know more about this topic? Read the entire New African Magazine issue and my article on The Conversation. Follow Wachira Warukira’s work at Waruks Productions.

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Ghana Elections 2020, A Step Forward for Women

Election season in Ghana is special to me. I have lived through the 2008, 2012, 2016 versions of it and gotten more and more involved in each election cycle. So for 2020, I decided to be a bit proactive! Together with a colleague at the Nordic Africa Institute with a soft spot for Ghanaian politics, Diana Højlund Madsen, we planned an event and a policy note around the gendered aspects of the 2020 Ghana Elections.

The event was held on November 9th and now with days to the election, the Policy Note is in! The text was written together with one of the panelists from the event, a real Ghanaian scholarly treasure, Prof Kwesi Aning of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre!

In the policy note, we write “In the upcoming Ghanaian elections, a woman has, for the first time, emerged as a vice-presidential candidate for one of the two major parties in the country. Her candidacy has sparked hopes of progress on gender equality, but has also triggered anti-feminist and misogynistic rhetoric.”

Thanks to all involved in making the event and the policy note possible.

Read it in full here in PDF, Issuu and here in an online version.

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Kajsa at Bokmässan: Digitalization, Culture and Freedom

Behind the scenes, Kajsa at Bokmässan
Photo: @NordicAfrica

A dream came through a few weeks ago: I was a participant in Sweden’s foremost event for the written word, the Gothenburg Bookfair.

I remember the first time I attended the fair as a student. I took the train from Uppsala to Gothenburg and stayed with a classmate. On the morning of, I walked towards the exhibit area and the closer I got the more people joined me. Outside the Göteborgsmässan, colorful banners were up everywhere and the queue was long. Once inside, I was still shocked by the intensity, heat, and ferocity of book conversations, seminar events, the crowd streaming back and forth… and they were all holding (intellectual prints adorned) tote bags filled to the brim with new, exciting books. As a book nerd, I felt like I had died and come to heaven.

So when I colleague kind of casually asked if I would be alright with attending the book fair as part of my job, I might have screamed a YES too loud to be professional. I proposed a seminar, very hopefully assuming the corona crisis would be over around this time. “Africa after the Corona crisis: Digitalisation, Culture and Freedom”.

I suggested a long list of creatives I thought would to justice to the topic. In the end, this was the lineup:


  • Görrel Espelund, Journalist and Author


We spoke of effects of the Corona crisis on culture, but also on education and freedom – and how digitalization is playing a more important (and more divisive) role now than ever.

While I was hoping I would be at the fair physically, I could see myself being ushered through a dense crowd of sweaty and happy book lovers together with some extraordinary creatives to a well-lit stage and later join the crowd in browsing for books for 48 hours or so, as we all know, the Corona crisis is not over, and close-knit gatherings of sweaty thousands of people handing objects to each other are off the table for now. Thus this experience with Mantse and Ainehi calling in was second best, but still, quite the success if I may say so myself. However, a sweet side-effect is the webinar is available well beyond Gothenburg and Sweden.

You can watch the 30-minute webinar here.

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In Loving Memory of Comfort Maame Ekua Adu

As the summer moved into autumn in Sweden, days became shorter, rains fell, and our family was hit by a terrible blow. One in our midst was suddenly gone. She was called Comfort and it’s not often a person so embodies their name. She truly was a Comfort and a joy to her family and surrounding community including a large circle of friends and she will be missed.

Comfort Maame Ekua Adu

Comfort Maame Ekua Adu was my husband’s sister and became my sister too. When I was new in Ghana, I would meet her on the way to Community 1 Market where she would sit outside her friend’s shop and she would always wave me to stop and chat in a way that strengthened me and made me feel seen and often she made me laugh. In the family, she was a powerhouse and almost had an inner engine that seemed to propel her forward. She could kickstart us into different projects and at times step on toes as she hurried forward. Comfort was also the natural center of the party, coordinating the people involved, divvying up the food, and starting the dance on the dancefloor with a big, deep laugh.

Despite her natural speed, deep voice, and power, she moved with kindness. She took time to talk when we met, was tough when tough love was needed and hugged me with a squeeze so hard it almost made me breathless.

I seek comfort in that while our sister Comfort Maame Ekua’s life was too short, it was also inspirational, especially to women since she was unapologetically herself and in a way that encouraged others around her to live their desired life in a society that puts a lot of pressure on conforming to the norm. She had a large circle of friends, and over the last weeks, I have come to understand she knew almost everyone in our hometown of Tema! She lived alone and adopted and loved two girls.

As the autumn colored the leaves yellow and red, the skies turned grey, and the last sunrays of summer were seen less frequently each day here in Sweden. This past rainy weekend, Comfort was given her last rest in Ghana. Our sister Comfort spread joy and comfort and while I hate to write that in the past tense, I think that is the nicest thing one can say about a person. That is why so many will miss her sorely.

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Planning the Autumn: New Directions

Yellow leaves on Tree, Lempdes

It is September and I am back on the blog. Over the summer, I decided to take an extended social media break after reading rhetoric expert Elaine Eksvärd’s post about being present with family (in Swedish). So I was just that: present. With the family I moved apartments, we went on a little trip, swam in Stockholm’s many water bodies and played many rounds of cards!

But now the air is crisp and some leaves are turning yellow, kids are in school and I am back behind the keyboard, working, and planning the autumn. Being a teacher at heart, this time of year smells of new beginnings, new possibilities, and “bouquets of sharpened pencils” as it was phrased in the film “You’ve Got Mail”. To top it off, my PostDoc at NAI is coming to an end in December so I am also planning for the next stage of my career. Probably more on that in another blog post soon!

Speaking of my workplace, we are now back in the office one day a week and that feels somehow perfect. The Covid-19 pandemic meant we were fully Working From Home and although that saved me a pretty long commute, I do miss having a workplace and colleagues. One day a week is perfect for fitting important meetings, water-cooler-small-talk — without feeling constantly on the hamster-wheel like commuting sometimes do.

For this fall, I am continuously working on the project The Space and Role of Political Science in the Evolving Democratic Transformation in Africa – right now on two papers: the first is about curriculum development in some selected African universities’ political science departments and the second on bibliometric data or research output in the social sciences in our case countries.

In addition to that, I have listed the papers I want to finish from other projects (read: the dissertation), the books I want to read (and maybe write a few book reviews?), the people I want to meet, even if by a 2m distance, the food I want to cook (this time of year is so food-fantastic!), and the blog and Instagram posts I want to share.

A few weeks ago, I did not think this feeling would come, but here it is: I am welcoming the autumn and all that comes with it!

What are your autumn plans?

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Slow and Small Victories: Getting an Academic Paper Published

Academia is not a place for fast turnarounds. Last week, I reached a milestone which was the result of intense efforts starting 13 years ago when I first decided to apply for a Ph.D. position in migration studies at the University of Ghana. Now, this milestone quietly appeared as an automated email among many in my inbox. The communication indicated that the first paper out of my thesis had been published in a peer-reviewed journal!

Find the paper in full (open access) here: Student migration aspirations and mobility in the global knowledge society: The case of Ghana

The journal is called the Journal of International Mobility and is a French journal – I just love how abstract and bio is also available in another language. It is also an open-access journal meaning researchers and others can read it for free and download /télécharcher it as it is not behind a paywall. I found it as they were publishing work on academic mobility, international student migration and I thought it could be a good fit.

What does it mean to publish a paper?

This means a section of my research is now available for easy consumption and critique. That means I am part of a global conversation about my topic, much more than if I only left results in my 300+ page dissertation (PDF). In this paper, I chose to focus on my quantitative data (two more papers out of my thesis yet to be published have a more qualitative focus drawing on focus groups and interviews) on student migration aspirations.

Morover, I contextualize the situation for student migrants out of the global south – unequal access to higher education, under- and unemployment after graduation, hardship acquiring visas to further studies abroad, the global knowledge society where student migrants provide 3% of trade in services in the OECD. I explain how Ghana is a good case study with outmigration among highly skilled close to Africa’s average and high levels of graduate unemployment. I review the international student migration (ISM) literature and suggest students from the global south are understudied. I ask: “Do students from the global south aspire to be mobile? Are they mobile? How do they experience the global knowledge society?” With survey data from 467 Ghanaian students I respond to these questions and find that (quoting from the abstract, or summary):

…the students aspire to migrate, mostly for educational reasons. However, many of these students also aspire to return, others to live transnational lives, and one in twelve students surveyed are not interested in migrating—that is, in leaving Ghana for more than one year. These results show that university students in Ghana often imagine their future at home, but their life strategies include graduate school and gaining work experience abroad. Hence, mobility, but perhaps not necessarily migration, is a central feature of their life aspirations.

What does it really mean to me to publish a paper?

Emotionally, the email and publication shook me to the core. It has been such a long ride and now this seems…small?

Late nights transcribing interviews, tabulating survey data. Versions of this paper dating back to 2017. Having a colleague critique and then rewriting the paper. Getting it rejected once. Getting many comments on what is now the published paper, but pressing through. It was hard until the end, too… The final edited version I had to correct twice (a misunderstanding meant the copyeditor needed the changes in a different format). The emails sent to ask for an update on the process.

Now, I had the email blinking a URL at me on the screen with a “published” in a sentence next to it.

Was this it?

Cheers to a published paper! Photo: Eliza K.

After a drink with my husband to celebrate, and this email to tell you all, I am pressing on with other slow, thoughtful, and important scholarly work. But after taking a few weeks of vacation!

Read more about my Ph.D. project on its website

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Guest Blog Post at ESSA Website

In an ongoing collaboration with Education Subsaharan Africa (ESSA), I was invited to write a blog post for them. I chose to write about the problem of reliable and comparable data on higher education in African countries for ESSA’s “Doing more with Data”-series.

I write:

This year, 9.8 million students in Africa were not able to go to their universities as they used to because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The aggregated estimate (UNESCO) covers the continent as a whole. This data reminds us of a major issue for the African higher education sector – there is not enough detailed, open and recent data to make good policy and research.

While higher education in Africa struggles with resources, relevance and impact it is easy to forget the issue of data for planning. The adage about a group of people describing the different parts of an elephant — and coming back with widely different conclusions about the animal based on describing the trunk or the tail, reminds us of the complex issue at hand.  Policy makers, university administrators and researchers of higher education all need quality and timely data points from all levels of the sector: individual departments, universities, countries, regions and continents.

At the Nordic Africa Institute we have been mapping the discipline of political science on the continent, we realized it was impossible to find comparable data on the number of students by discipline over time. The same was true for data on professors in the discipline.

To align this with the elephant story, without a systematic way of describing the sector, we end up with confusing data. With such difficulties it is hard to conclude on basic trends: if the discipline is growing or declining, and subsequently what links the size of the discipline has to democratization and transparent governance…

Read the whole blog post on ESSA’s Website.

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Policy Note on Key Challenges for African Universities

Last month, the NAI policy note I have been working on for a while now was published. Find it here: Resources, Relevance, and Impact – Key Challenges for African Universities. (link to PDF)


Global and regional goals, such as Agenda 2030 and the African Union’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa, foreground higher education as an engine for development and job creation. Yet, many African universities perform weakly in international comparison. This policy note looks at the challenges in strengthening the freedom, relevance and impact of research and higher education in Africa.

The Recommendations In Short

Writing for Clarity

As a researcher who is also a blogger, I am very much interested in the availability and ease of use of my research. Even though I went into the process of writing for a policy audience highly motivated, I was challenged by the level of work that goes into a shorter paper simplifying the issues.

After writing and rewriting a text that in the end was 1000 words longer than the format, I had several of my researcher colleagues read early drafts and come with comments – especially how to phrase recommendations and limit the scope I found tricky. Next, our communication unit read the text and we had conversations on what aspects to visualize and what to cut out, and then there was (very much needed) language editing. It is actually quite scary when I saw how many words can be altered for clarity, thinking about how I have gladly been pressing “publish” on the blog for many years without any such editing! Then a few back-and-forth-emails on final titles, illustrations and other details – and then four months later – voilà: The finished Policy Note.

Please download, share, and let me hear your comments!

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Black Lives Matter: “There is no social contract”, says Trevor Noah

These days, just like many others, I am keenly following everything on the Black Lives Matter protests in the Unites States, and in the last days the rest of the world including 1000s on the street here in Stockholm. Is now the time racism will finally die? I think of my friends in the US and wonder how they are feeling. I look for Instagram posts about white allyship. I sit with long-reads tracing the history of racism. An eerie feeling rises: nothing of this is new.

The best input so far, I feel, is a heartfelt 18 minute clip by talk show host (and house god) Trevor Noah. He argues that the protests were to be expected as the US social contract was repeatedly trashed when black citizens daily have to fear for their lives by law enforcement.

“Why should the citizens of a society adhere to the laws when the law-enforcers themselves don’t?”, as Trevor Noah puts it.

The social contract is an idea, a thought model for what a society is. I taught social contract theory in my Social Theory class at Ashesi University in Ghana for 10 years, so I immediately liked this way of understanding the situation at hand. The social contract, even in its cruelest, most authoritarian form as expressed by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan has one caveat – when your life is threatened…when your life does not matter to the leadership, the social contract no longer exists. When the society is no longer protecting you, you are back in the state of nature, the “all against all” situation where there are no more any rules – because what do you have to lose if your life is at stake?

To educate ourselves about the history behind the racism we see across the globe and to discuss how that reality is relevant today, the Social Theory class also read Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyesi’s novel Homegoing (I can very much recommend it) which follows the descendants of two sisters from Ghana – one sold into slavery and transported over the seas to the US, one staying in green Ghana. The message that Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora are connected is driven home well-well. In a post from 2016 related to this issue, Ghanaian blogger Jamila Abdulai wrote,

“I’ve been observing the lack of dialogue on the Black Lives Matter cause and racism in America among Africans, particularly on the continent, with great trepidation. Sure, some of us are sharing one or two articles, but we are largely silent on the issue, not uttering a word. Not to mention the fact that there hasn’t so much as been a beep from our so-called leaders either. That’s why I’m writing this. To appeal to your conscious, to plead with you to wake up.”

But maybe there are things that are new, this time around. This time, Ghana’s president Akuffo-Addo did share a statement that I think it is worth reposting.

White people also do better on acknowledging the movement this time around, at least on my timelines. People share resources and hashtags, seem to be learning about racism and allyship just like myself, and express support. I especially liked a post talking about “black people’s joy and thriving” as the goal beyond black lives matter.

While the protests continue, at home we have daily conversations on what it means to be black or white in Ghana, Sweden, and the world today. I know many other families in Sweden have similar conversations. We think about the changes over time and frankly, we are impatient with the slow change.

I watch the clips. I read everything I can find. I unlearn and learn my own role.  I shudder at the evil in this world.

I also smile when I see how many of us support the struggle. Will we live to see racism wiped out, will we experience a broad understanding of that black lives matter and see racism replaced with true humanism, respect for life, and black joy?

A few ways to support the cause in Sweden: (Please add more in the comments!)

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Back to Blogging: What Readers Want (spoiler: it’s not what I thought!)

My outdoor desk, complete with … Can you recognize the plants?

When returning to my blog, I asked you what you would like to read. When taking up the blog, in my mind I was thinking along the lines of:

  • Professional updates
  • Links to talks and publications
  • My view of differences between work in Sweden and Ghana
  • Discussions around parenting /Activities with kids

But what you want is….personal, feelings and other mushy stuff! Here are some of your questions for me:

  • Sweden, Ghana and How do you feel?
  • How did you re-integrate into Sweden after 12 years in Ghana?
  • What do you miss about Ghana?
  • Why did you go live in Sweden?
  • What have you learned about relationships?

Well, a blog has to listen to its readers, that I know for sure. It also should be my space online. So I will be back with all the above!

Ps. While you wait, you can revisit my first 500 blog posts!

Right answer from image caps: Plants are Ruccola, Chili and Tomato

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