Professor Ayobami Ojebode of the Department of Communication and Language Arts and other African researchers in academic and industry are expected to produce reports that enhance Africans’ digital rights. According to the Institute of Development Studies situated at the University of Sussex, Professor Ojebode will be working with other researchers from Access Now, CARD Ethiopia, Amandla.mobi, the Association of Progressive Communications (APC), the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the Digital Society of Zimbabwe, New Zambian Innovations, the University of the Witwatersrand, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Zambia.
Information from the Institute indicates that Professor Ojebode is among the network of researchers dubbed “the Digital and Technology Research Cluster” who will work on a research project that worth £150, 000 in funding. The project, according to the Institute, is being supported by UKRI – GCRF Digital Innovation for Development in Africa (DIDA).
“This collaborative research project includes activists, analysts, and practitioners with deep contextual knowledge into a multi-disciplinary research team. The network will begin by producing seven Country Digital Landscape Reports to scope the existing political and technological landscape in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
An analysis of existing capacity and gaps will inform the design of a broader programme of research beyond the inception year. We will use the Country Digital Landscape Reports to identify cross-cutting research themes and produce thematic reports that build the knowledge and capabilities of citizens to exercise, defend and expand the rights guaranteed to them in law but denied to them in practice.”
Information from the funder also indicates that the fund is allocated from a £1.5 billion fund to support cutting-edge research which addresses the problems faced by developing countries. Professor Ojebode has been deploying his skills, knowledge and experience in development communication and studies towards sustainable development in Nigeria and Africa since 2002.
Professor Ojebode and others are expected to deliver reports that equip Africans, especially people with significant interest in ensuring good governance and sustainable development on the continent by addressing development challenges in political and technological landscapes, with better resources and processes. Successful completion of the project means that the researchers would have opportunity to access parts of £19M allocated for six to eight projects for the 24 Network of Researchers by the UKRI – GCRF Digital Innovation for Development in Africa. According to the funder, “the projects in the second stage could be either a research project or enhanced network building through a ‘Network Plus’ grant.”