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Research Projects

Current Research


Scaling Up African Technology Startups

The Scaling Up African Technology Startups project is being undertaken in collaboration with the University of Ottawa (Canada), University of Cape Town (South Africa), Strathmore University (Kenya) and the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (Nigeria), as an extension of the research by the Open A.I.R. project. A2K4D is the north African hub of the Open A.I.R. network. The main aim of the project is to expand focus to the areas of: openness, knowledge and innovation metrics, the value of social capital in the informal sector, and business models of open innovation and related knowledge exchange systems. In doing so, the Open A.I.R. network will devise and refine a preliminary model of IP strategies for open innovation, widely disseminate research findings through scholarly, professional and public engagement, and build long-term sustainable research capacity.

Open A.I.R.’s previous research has aimed to document evidence of user-driven modes of knowledge production that largely escape mainstream assessment measures. Now, with the benefit of insights and evidence gleaned from previous research, the new project moves forward with some specific remedies for the assessment gaps, and thus conceptual gaps, that were uncovered. 

Harnessing the Economic Power of Data in the Middle East and North Africa

Amidst the growing global interest in the openness and availability of data for more effective planning, monitoring and evaluation, Harnessing the Economic Power of Data in the Middle East and North Africa project or the Data Revolution project is one of the first research initiatives in the MENA region that explores the connection between data and economic development. It is a new project that the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) is undertaking, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The project aims to explore innovative technologies and approaches to improve data production, management, and usability, particularly in areas that could enhance entrepreneurship and youth employment in the region. The project will highlight policies and regulations that govern data production and usability, develop and test innovative tools to improve data collection, management, and use, and introduce educational modules that focus on the specific skills needed to build capacities in the field. The project led by A2K4D will bring together partners from the region, including partners from Morocco, Tunisia and Palestine.

Cellular Technologies and Access to Knowledge

The A2K4D team is developing a book project analyzing mobile telephony within the Access to Knowledge framework. Together with our partners of the Access to Knowledge Global Academy, we will look at opportunities and challenges that arise from the wide spread of mobile phones, especially in terms of access and control. The focus on mobile telephony allows our research to analyze a complex network of actors and their relationships swith states, private companies, and citizens. For the Call for Proposals, click here.


Previous Research

Mobilization for Change: The Role of the Networked Public Sphere in Advancing Civic Participation and Collective Action in the Arab region

This project is undertaken in partnership with Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. It aims to assess the networked public sphere’s impact on civic engagement and democratic transitions in the Arab world. The project also includes Innova Tunisia and the Arab Policy Institute as our regional partners, both based in Tunisia. Project publications are due in Fall 2015.

Global Censorship and Access to Knowledge 

The A2K4D team has co-edited and contributed to a book in collaboration with Access to Knowledge Global Academy partners. The book is titled Global Censorship: Shifting Modes, Persisting Paradigms, A2KGA Research Series. It includes chapters underscoring the different forms of censorship that are utilized today by political regimes, with cases from the United States, Syria, Brazil, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Burma and Egypt. The chapter on Egypt, drafted by the A2K4D director, is titled “Behind Egypt’s Communication Outage of 2011: Censorship and Economic Liberty. " You can download a PDF of the book here

Knowledge and Innovation in Africa

A2K4D is the North African hub of the Open African Innovation Research and Training Project (Open A.I.R.). For more information about the project and network, please click here. 

Research Outputs

Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future, edited by Shirin Elahi, Jeremy De Beer, Dick Kawooya, Chidi Oguamanan, Nagla Rizk and the Open A.I.R. Network. Cape Town: UCT Press, 2013.

Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa, edited by Jeremy De Beer, Chris Armstrong, Chidi Oguamanam, and Tobias Schonwetter. Cape Town: UCT Press, 2014.

Copyright and Creativity

A2K4D has been involved in several studies exploring copyright and creativity. Most recently, fieldwork exploring artistic expressions in Egypt and Tunisia has been undertaken with support from the Open A.I.R. project. Published research on this topic include:

Rizk, Nagla. “Egypt’s Independent Music – Copyright, Commons and Revolution”." In Emerging Musical Scenes – rethinking music industry in the Global South, edited by Pedro Augusto Francisco and Mariana Valente. FGV Direito Rio, Brazil (in press).

Rizk, Nagla. "From De Facto Commons to Digital Commons? The Case of Egypt's Independent Music Industry." In Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa, edited by Jeremy De Beer, Chris Armstrong, Chidi Oguamanam, and Tobias Schonwetter. Cape Town: UCT Press, 2014. 

"Notes from Egypt's Alternative Music Scene: Business Models, Commons and Copyright" Journal of World Intellectual Property (January 2010)  

"Stories from Egypt’s Music Industry: De Facto Commons as Alternatives to Copyright," in Access to Knowledge in Egypt, New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Development, Rizk and Shaver eds.; Bloomsbury Academic, 2010.  

Open Source Software

The A2K4D team, led by Nagla Rizk, drafted the National Strategy for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Egypt, as requested by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. The proposed vision of the FOSS strategy is to build a well-developed knowledge society those benefits from a healthy ecosystem of IT- producing and IT-using sectors in Egypt. 

The National Strategy for Free and Open Source Software in Egypt comes as a culmination of previous A2K4D and affiliates’ work on FOSS, including:

Rizk, Nagla. and Kamel, S. (2013). "ICT and Building a Knowledge Based Society in Egypt", International Journal for Knowledge Management (IJKM), 9(1), 1-20.

Rizk, Nagla. (2012). “Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) as a Vehicle for Human Development in Egypt: Some Evidence and Insights”, International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 5(3), 221-236.

"The Software Industry in Egypt: What Role for Open-Source?" Nagla Rizk and Sherif El-Kassas, in Access to Knowledge in Egypt, New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Development; Bloomsbury Academic, 2010.

International Media Concentration

A2K4D is a member of a global research project on media concentration in 30 different countries in partnership with the Columbia Institute of Tele-information. The project aims at a data-driven analysis of trends and their drivers for 12 major media industries in each country, for a period from 1984 to 2008.  An integral part of the research is collecting first hand data on market shares for the different media sectors in Egypt. This has been complemented by field interviews for narratives that capture market concentration and diversity, on both the economic and political sphere. 

Research Outputs

Rizk, Nagla. (forthcoming). “Media Concentration in Egypt.” In Noam, E. (Ed.), International Media Concentration, New York: Oxford University Press.

Rizk, Nagla, and Attalah, L. (2011), "Egypt's Evolving Media Landscape: Access, Public Interest and Control", in A New Frontier, An Old Landscape, Dixie Hawtin and Andrew Puddaphatt eds., New York: Ford Foundation, 118-136.