Border information in Africa is notoriously inconsistent. Particularly, determining the official status of a border crossing – whether it is open or closed – is often left to first-hand or second-hand reports. This issue is made worse, by the rapidly changing nature of border crossing statuses throughout Africa.
For example, Africa’s land borders opened or closed in 57 separate incidents in 2014. Epitomizing the ambiguous nature of border crossings in Africa, the Libya-Algerian border alone closed or opened 12 times in the same year.
Ambiguous border information has a significant detrimental effect on states’ transnational economic operations epitomized by commercial lorries in multiple-day lines leading up to a closed border. Pastoral populations too, who have transnational movement at their cultural identities’ foundation are hindered. Lastly, border communities that rely on transnational marketplaces, education, and familial structures are suddenly disrupted.
It is against this challenge that the Border Monitor is motivated to generating research and data to achieve a borderless Africa.
Border research in Africa is significantly lacking quality data. We develop new methodologies that side-step traditional challenges to gathering data in Africa and, instead, harness the enormous capacity of a connected Africa. Utilizing technologies that leverage Africa’s engagement with mobile devices, social media, and digital interconnections, the Border Monitor is changing the way researchers approach Border Studies. With the right data and good analytical tools, policy practitioners can keep make informed decisions with a solid foundation of understanding the dynamics of borders in Africa.
We focus on the hard part of quantitative research – getting the data. The Border Monitor is the only source that generates data on border closures in Africa. We’ve achieved this by creating the best data tools for automatically scrape for hard-to-find data. With algorithms we can filter, categorize and generate statistical models that draw out the important border dynamics throughout Africa. And not just for single borders, our tools are the first to systematically work through every border in Africa. By illustrating this data, the Border Monitor offers researchers unprecedented opportunity to research examine borders.
Our company was founded as a response to the absence of data. From the beginning we’ve been innovating tools that seeks out the data to allow us to do what we do best – analyse. Having located the data, we have put together a team to integrate our findings with other research to synthesize policy options. By cross-examining the dynamics we’ve identified with areas such as economics, conflict, and development we are in a unique position to identify each field’s interactions with Africa’s borders. The Border Monitor’s unique position as an authority of Border Data has made it extremely well placed to offer policy options to practitioners an adjacent fields. It is our objective to work closely with researchers and practitioners in these areas to develop new and geo-spatially granulated results.