(Dêmos; people) and (kratos; power)! Two Greek words existed for thousands of years and more years yet to come. When put together, Demokratia; Democracy is coined. “Power to the people” or “Rule of the people”; both the literal meaning for such a political practice. Cleisthenes once introduced an oath stating: “To advise according to the laws what was best for the people”. Aristotle; the Greek polymath then said “democracy is the form of government in which… the free are the many and the rich are the few”. This highlights a paradox of democracy in that it attempts to be equal to all, yet often the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer, and a growing wealth gap will certainly impact governance.

Thousands of years after, and specifically in 2007, the UN resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy. The resolution acknowledged that: “while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region…democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life”.
Usually, the drive behind democracy is to inhibit the accumulation of too much authority in the hands of one or a certain group. It reposes on a stable relation between giving enough power for what Alexander Hamilton called “vigorous and energetic government” and avoiding giving out so much power that it becomes abused. On the other hand Winston Churchill once described it as the “least bad” form of government.

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“Climate Change and Economic Development in Africa”, socioeconomic and climate scenarios in the African continent

Climate change and economic development in Africa are pressing issues within the African continent. Although Africa is pressurized by problems of poverty alleviation and health issues, yet lately climate change and economic development became a major concern. While African countries have lower overall and per capita global warming emissions on the planet, they are also likely to suffer from the consequences of climate change. Droughts, famine, desertification, and population displacement are the impacts of such a rising danger within the continent. In the context of high levels of poverty and malnutrition, the priority for many African countries is increasing access to energy services and improving the economic welfare of their people. The African Economic Research Consortium’s (AERC) is organizing its Biannual Research Workshop addressing the topic of “climate change and economic development”. The event is scheduled on Sunday June 2, 2013 at the Mount Meru Hotel, Arusha, Tanzania.

AERC has embarked upon an initiative of an interactive live webcast for the workshop allowing the audience to follow the proceedings on the plenary session. The live web cast is available directly from: http://aercafricaevents.org/ba1-2013/livestream/.The videos will also be made available on the YouTube link on the website as the meeting progresses. For updates through Twitter, the AERC twitter handle is @AERCAFRICA and through the RSS link available on the website.

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Human rights, citizenship and the Arab spring

“Human rights” in the Middle East is a very problematic issue. However, the state of human rights differs from one state to another. Some states within the region do have a record of progressive understanding of human rights and its implementations as the case of Jordan, Bahrain and Morocco.

On the other hand, there are some states within the region that do encounter grave violations due to authoritarian regimes and repressive measures that led to diminished social activism within the society.

Flickr User: Essam Sharaf (CC)

In 2010, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region witnessed unprecedented waves of protests; commonly referred to as the “Arab Spring”. The chain reaction of such a phenomena demanded thorough socio-economic change and in-depth political transformation. People in many countries of the region called for respect for their human rights, an end to repression, new social contract built on representation and Citizenship rights.

Citizenship within the state was always a controversial issue, in terms of citizens and citizenship concept as stated by Aristotle, “a citizenship is one who shares both shares in the government and also in his turn submits to be governed; their condition, it is true, is different in different states; the best is that in which a man is enabled to choose and to persevere in a course of virtue during his whole life, both in his public and private state”.

This in return would clarify two main aspects of citizenship. The first of which would be a “legal” definition establishing what would be called a formal relationship between the people vis-a-vis the government and secondly that role a person has to play in a certain manner that entails virtue. Furthermore, this conceptualization of citizenship entails distinguishing between what would be considered as public and private spheres that touches on the dichotomy of state and civil society.

Ideas of citizenship are thus derived from the theoretical framework of liberalism. In the political form of liberal theory, it ascribes to individual’s power in their own lives and an equal say in how the government is run.

The impoverished societies of the Middle East need more plurality in terms of ideas, less repression of peaceful dissent, more political participation, and more institutions that would in a way channel popular desire for change, and for a better future. This poses serious complexities when coming to think of it in the context of the MENA region. States within the MENA region are deformed since inception, fragmented, and carry a colonial heritage and colonial political institutions; states that deal with citizens as subjects, and carry among them the traits of authoritarianism.

I do believe that governments within the region for sure have roles to play in terms of negating some paranoid and prejudiced beliefs within the society. Education along with social activism would surely allow for a better perception of what has to be a relation between all citizens within the state.



What makes News?


What does news mean?  Is it a word of mouth? Broadcasting recent or current events?  What is newsworthy in our lives?

A pool of questions that is everlasting. News has been so important lately in the sense that communicating “news” has rendered infinite number of tools. Online news, media, newspapers, social media, networking and even word of mouth are all interconnected factors that affect “news”.

“Communicating news”, is again an important aspect. What are the tools to successfully communicate news? How to make sure that news have reached the targeted audience? In Africa, broadcasting news and reaching the audience is a concern.

There is a fact that in Africa; “Many people prefer to talk not write” (from BBC Africa, Have your say). For researchers this is a serious alarm. Researchers in Africa rely mainly on writing down their thoughts, their researches, and their projects which is not easy at all to have their works exposed.

The workshop’s core topic in day 2 focused mainly on such a significant subject. What would it take to write a “catchy” story in view of the “teller’s perceptive” to be accountable for publishing through an “editors’ eye”.

Nyasha  Musandu, CommsConsult

Nyasha Musandu, CommsConsult

However, it has to be taken into consideration to choose the “right communications tool”, the “targeted audience”, and their locations; “be that rural or urban” and the tool they mainly rely on. Nyasaha Musandu presented “communication landscapes” explaining such concerns and stating facts affecting Africa. Internet usage in Africa is still very limited, in 2010, only 10% of Ghanaians had internet in their homes, while Kenya recorded 5%!

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For Africa’s health, economic growth and poverty reduction welfare

Africa is a wonderful, beautiful, exciting continent and offers amazing experiences and adventures. However, these experiences are often slowed down by health issues along with concerns of economic growth and poverty.

As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow in the continent, so do the numbers of people fall through the cracks finding themselves homeless, and neglected.

AERC in partnership with GDNet and CommsConsult arranged a two days workshop in Kenya. The workshop focused mainly on approaches that researchers would undertake in order to better communicate research to their target audience to maximize uptake and impact.

GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop

GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop

Researchers hailed from almost all over the “Motherland” African continent countries. Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Burkinafaso, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Uganda, Benin, Malawi, Sierra Leone and of course Kenya; the host country along with Egypt represented by me and my dear travel mate and colleague Ms. Zeinab Sabet.

Day 1 started with a brief intro and a warm welcome from AERC representatives; Prof. Damiano Manda and Dr. Innocent Matshe. “Communications is one of the most overlooked things in your lives”, Dr. Matshe expressed his concern for such a fact. He stressed that “communicating” is generally ignored and for a successful approach to culminate, communicating must be implemented.

For AERC, poverty is one of the main objectives to study. As health is very much affected by poverty, it is again a topic that should be clearly discussed. In doing so, workshop participants are encouraged to raise their concerns they encounter in their receptive researches to shed more light on such challenges that would serve the cause.

Mrs. Megan Lloyd Laney; CommsConsult Director and workshop facilitator took over to declare the opening session and commencement for Day 1 activities. Mrs. Megan stressed on the workshop’s main focal objectives. Objectives included how to increase the understanding of communications with targeted audience, build capacity and skills of researchers and produce a concise “policy brief” for each research project.

Megan Lloyd-Laney, CommsConsult

Megan Lloyd-Laney, CommsConsult

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