Working with people on large research projects can be draining, time consuming and sometimes outright frustrating. But what is also true about working on these kind of projects is that as a researcher, one has so much to offer other team members and in most cases, a lot more to take from the collaboration. I am currently on a team project working on: The Role of Digital Media in Socio-Political Engagements in Africa. I have collaborators from Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

This digital media research project seeks to understand how the use of social media is transforming socio-political relations in Africa. I came to this project from a bit more quantitative perspective. My previous work on social media research is content analysis, online survey data, etc. I have published a small book on social media use by transnational organisations, focusing on the African Union in comparison to the European Union. And therefore, I have some relevant experience to bring to the topic of understanding how digital media use is transforming socio-political engagements in Africa.

In the area of data harvesting, I have some skills that will be quite useful in gathering the data and cleaning it for analysis. There are so many tools out there for collecting data from social media channels and because of the multiple options, sometimes one is overwhelmed with which one to use. While most of these tools are good but they are mostly ideal for certain things over others, keeping in mind that these tools are not primarily developed for academic research. As such, it is important to know that a tool can only do so much. Thus the need to find different tools for different niche insights.

Moreover, on the issue of data analysis I am confident that I have useful insights to offer the team, especially in terms of finding patterns and or the lack of it. The Gambia is part of the sample countries and my background, work and experience in the Gambia will be quite useful. I also have had the rare experience of working on internet freedom projects that looks at the Sub Saharan Africa region. My knowledge of internet freedom issues across the continent will be quite useful for this project. Similarly, my experience working a journalist will be quite useful in the writing and reporting of this project findings. I have good media connections that will enable me to help disseminate the results to a large audience around the continent.

Despite all the contributions that I can offer to the team, I also look forward to learning from my team members. I look forward to hearing more about in-country specifics from other experts and practitioners. Since my work has focused mostly on political relations, it could be interesting to understand social relations too. Africa is more communal than other parts of the world, particularly the West. And social media’s primary function is to create communities and one would expect that this is quite simple and straightforward in Africa but how so? Consequently, I look forward to learning more from my colleagues. Some of the team members have also done quite extensive experience on social media use in Africa, it will be interesting to learn from them. The team also includes linguists who bring unique experience and expertise into the team project.

So, I really look forward to working on this project.