Africa’s Voices Academy 2017

We invite you to join us for Africa’s Voices inaugural Academy. Our senior researchers will deliver practical and engaging training sessions on the opportunities of the digital revolution to gather citizen-generated data, and cutting-edge research techniques to generate rich insights.

Africa’s Voices is committed to sharing our learnings, growing the capacity of others, and demonstrating the value of listening intelligently to citizens of African countries. Over four days, we will provide a novel programme of modules to our partners, Nairobi-based researchers, and others working in the citizen engagement space. Read the module descriptions below, and then register your interest.

Module 1 – Designing digital research projects for impact

With Dr. Sharath Srinivasan and Dr. David Good

Description: To set the scene for Africa’s Voices first Academy, our Director, Dr. Sharath Srinivasan of the Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights, will present the potential, as well as the challenges, of leveraging digital channels for robust social research. To ground the presentation in practical realities, select case studies of Africa’s Voices projects will be discussed, and participants invited to share their own examples. Secondly, Dr. David Good, a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge, will present a framework for designing research projects to maximise their intended impact. Emphasising collaboration and robust theoretical foundations, the framework is influenced by design thinking and human-centred design. It has been tailored to applied research projects, and most recently to Africa’s Voices work.

Cost: Free to Africa’s Voices partners and to attendees of Academy Modules 2 and/or 3.

Module 2 – Applications of Big data to the Social Sciences: Frameworks for analysis of citizen generated data

With Dr. Claudia Abreu Lopes, plus guest presenter Dr. Anastasia Mirzoyants-McKnight (Well Told Story)

Description: This module will introduce frameworks for analysis of textual data generated by citizens when they interact with service providers or development organisations through social media or other digital platforms. On the first day, we will present applications of citizen generated data for formative research and evaluation of development projects. We will discuss methodological aspects covering formulation of research or evaluation questions, research design, and measurement; and on ethical aspects related to privacy, agency, representation and legitimacy. We will explore hybrid designs that combine traditional data with digital textual data to track changes in norms and attitudes. On the second day, we will provide practical guidance related to the collection, preparation and analysis of textual data, with examples of data science tools for parsing, analysing, and visualising textual data (R packages stringr, tm and ggplot2 and Tableau).

Introduction to R course: Module 2 requires a basic understanding of R — a programming language specifically designed for statistical analysis. For those with no prior experience of R or for a refresher, please join us on Tuesday morning for an introduction to R with Dr. Alex Lewis, at no additional cost.

Cost: KES 7000 (or attend all modules for KES 10,500)

Module 3 – Social media research and citizen engagement

With Dr. Matti Pohjonen and Rita Zagoni

Description: One of the most visible manifestations of the ongoing digital media revolution in Africa is the proliferation of different social media platforms and their widespread use. The emergence of such citizen-generated data provides new opportunities for the development sector to capture citizens’ opinions and beliefs and engage with communities at an unprecedented scale. Yet navigating these rapidly changing social media ecologies can be a daunting task. What platforms should one choose for research? How representative is the data collected? What are some the ethical challenges of using people’s personal data? And what kinds methods can be utilised to better understand the diverse conversations and communicative dynamics taking place on social media? This course combines theoretical lectures with hands on case studies where social media data has been used for robust social research. Participants are also invited to bring their own examples and projects to the discussion.

Cost: KES 6000 (or attend all modules for KES 10,500)

Logistical info:

  • The Academy will take place at The Nairobi Garage in Westlands, where our team is based.
  • Refreshments and lunch will be provided on each day.
  • The fees charged are to cover our costs only.
  • The Academy schedule is subject to change.

Online registration for the academy is now closed. If you are interested in attending, or for any other questions, please contact Rainbow at

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