#BlogCamp14

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Discussing Entrepreneurial Education and Remembering Eli Aidam at BarCamp Ho 2014

I've not written any posts on this blog or elsewhere online in a while because I was busy with the dissertation phase of my masters degree. I learnt a lot over the past year, especially from working on my final project. I am thankful for successfully completing the course.    

BarCamp Ho 2014 is upon us; this is Volta region's fourth barcamp since the first event in 2011. Find details about this year's event in the flyer below. 


We're dedicating this year's barcamp to the memory of Eli Aidam, our colleague from GhanaThink who tragically passed on earlier this year. 

Eli Aidam: Youth leader- GhanaThink, CCY, etc [Credit: Elvis Bomassah]
Eli, Eric Nii Tackie Tawiah, Bless Nkegbe and myself held the initial meeting at the Ghana Tourist Board Office [Eric's workplace] in October 2011, to plan the first BarCamp Ho. Back then, I quietly admired Eli's pragmatism, resourcefulness, and extensive networking skills. Eli then moved on to become the 'engine' of the Ho barcamps in later years. He was  a true connector, and this came to bear in his work with Centre for Creative Youth, a youth-led initiative focused on nurturing the creative talent of the youth for social change. When Ghana Decides was looking for partners for youth engagement, and later social media training, towards the 2012 elections, Eli was instrumental in bringing CCY on board. We remember Eli for his dreams, hard work, and selflessness, But, perhaps more importantly, we would remember him for being our friend.

So join us at the University of Health and Allied Sciences this Saturday 25th October to map out creative ways of personal development to aid youth to function in an increasingly entrepreneurial world, while we remember a dear colleague who exemplified that philosophy. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Exploring Youthful Innovations to Transform Agriculture in Africa via #AfricaDayAgric Chat

The African Union (AU) observes its founding date, 25th May, as "Africa Day" every year. This is a national holiday in many African countries set aside to reflect on how far we have come in pursuit of continental unity and various aspects of life. Earlier, the AU declared 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security, and the diaspora team of GhanaThink Foundation saw this as the perfect opportunity to engage youth on their role in transforming the agricultural sector.

Yesterday a Google + hangout discussion hosted by the team explored the challenges, innovations and opportunities in the African agricultural sector. The event, hosted by Jemila Abdulai and Kirstie Kwarteng featured youth panellists drawn from research, business, ICT and other contexts within the agricultural space. Joining the discussion were David Aduama, Alloysius Attah, Acheampong Atta Boateng, Edison Gbenga, Dr Joy Odimegwu, Sidney Rockson and Worlali Senyo. Their rich insights were shared with viewers in various parts of the world through the Diaspora Camp YouTube channel. You can follow what was discussed through the video below:


Inputs were made into conversation by the wider online community via the #AfricaDayAgric hashtag on Twitter and other social media platforms. The moderators masterfully increased interactivity by highlighting core points made and questions asked by the Twitter audience. A summary of the Twitter conversation is also available through the GhanaThink Storify account, thanks to Ato Ulzen-Appiah.

I left the discussion thinking of: (i) the role of education in giving youth skills and making agriculture attractive and (ii) strategies needed to withstand the negative effects of climate change on agriculture. If you have any thoughts on these, kindly drop a comment and let's discuss.

The #AfricaDayAgric chat is part of the new DiasporaCamp Online series, and hopefully we would have conversations on other topics of importance to African youth, home and abroad. What topics do you think need to be explored?

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Citizen Science Approach to Research: Report from GW4 Workshop, Bath

Source: thinkprogress.org
The idea of harnessing the collective or community input for a project is quite appealing to my African mind. Grassroots involvement fosters group ownership and often leads to better results. Movements such as GhanaThink, BloggingGhana and Enactus ride on the numbers and efforts of its members. When applied to science, public participation aids data collection and organisation, research design, and facilitates greater understanding of scientific phenomena. The active involvement of volunteers or "lay people" in the scientific enterprise, "citizen science", is a fast-growing paradigm in the scientific community and has the same essence as open source, open data and civic participation movements. It has wide applications ranging from social science research, through ecological studies, to unravelling the mysteries of the wider universe. I recently had the fortune to be part of a citizen science workshop organised by the United Kingdom's GW4 Universities at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, (BRLSI).
We were welcomed by Dr Helen Featherstone of University of Exeter who gave a brief intro of the day's activities. Dr Robert Simpson from University of Oxford, in the first presentation, gave an overview for the need and benefits of citizen science, drawing examples from the Zooniverse project.
He made an interesting point on validating crowdsource data- data contributed by the most accurate and least accurate volunteers are equally important because of the consistency. Thus you can tell whether the data coming in is accurate or inaccurate.

Dr Erinma Ochu from the University of Manchester then explored the topic from a social science perspective, with examples from the Sunflower Experiment and other projects. Here's a key point she made:
One of my favourite parts of the day was the structured networking session where the participants interacted about how they use citizen science in their work. In short three minute spells, I learnt briefly about projects such as mathMETicsIfOnly, and BodyTrack.

Next was a panel on citizen science case-studies featuring Lisa Austin (Bath, IfOnly), Alexander Todd (Exeter, CliMathNet), Dr Emma Rich (Bath, Citizen Journalism), Dr Jaap Velthuis (Bristol, HiSparc), and Dr Sarah Perkins (Cardiff, Project Splatter).

Panel discussion on GW4 citizen science projects
After the round-table, we broke for lunch amidst networking, followed by the breakout sessions. The breakouts focused on recruiting citizen scientists, methodological approaches and ethics. I was in the methodological approaches/ethics group and some of the issues raised include data ownership, blurring the line between academic and activist, limitations of institutional review processes, and citizen science governance.

Some useful technological and web resources for citizen science researchers were also shared among the group. Some of the less popular ones include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Storify, University Wiki pages, Open Street Map, Google tools (Maps, Apps, etc), Carto DB (for visualisation), Ushahidi (for crowdmapping) and Github (for open source code). 

I learnt a lot from what researchers are doing in the GW4 universities and other institutions. More than that, I enjoyed the brilliant opportunity to interact with the brains behind some really interesting citizen science projects. Hopefully we can do more with the larger public to piece together the puzzle that is life and derive better solutions for our pressing problems. Meanwhile, the conversation continues on Twitter via #GW4CS.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Afrimakers and OUWA Team up to Train the Next Generation of Ghanaian Makers

Trainees keenly engaged during the Africamakers Uganda session. Source: Afrimakers
Afrimakers project, in partnership with Open University of West Africa (OUWA) and a few others, are making further strides towards nurturing a maker movement in Ghana. Their three step strategy involves:
  1. Training facilitators to lead mentoring workshops and the community
  2. Mentoring 6 to 17 year olds to acquire the necessary problem-solving skills
  3. Showcasing innovations and networking through maker faire type events
Victor Kelechi Ofoegbu, one of the coordinators for the first facilitators workshop coming up at iHub, Accra next Monday, 10th March states:
The project aims to spark interest in young children for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) by exploring a range of hands-on experiments hands. The projects range from building paper-based electronic circuit boards, air quality control sensors, recycling old web cams into microscopes, to programming Raspberry Pi microcomputers.
This is a brilliant opportunity to improve problem-solving through open innovation in Ghana. Everyone should register and be part of it.      

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Tullow Group Scholarships for Prospective African and South American Masters Students

Take a bold step and apply to be a Tullow scholar
The British Council is accepting applications for the 2014 cohort of the Tullow Group Scholarship Scheme (TGSS). TGSS, funded by Tullow Oil plc, and managed by the British Council, has been put in place to support development in countries where Tullow operates. High potential scholars from selected countries in Africa and South America are sponsored for masters programmes in top universities in UK, Ireland and France. British council runs a rigorous assessment process to select the most suitable candidates for the programme. The scheme is in its third year of full operation, and application is opened up to 28th February. More details and instructions can be found at the TGSS website.