In just a few days, 2016 will be history. What a year this was!
At Paradigm Initiative, we had a busy and productive year. We added a new office in Kano, reviewed our strategy to reach more youth, upgraded training curriculum to align with new market demands, welcomed additional team members, signed agreements with new partners and added value to the lives of more under-served youth!
After running the #DigitalJobs campaign for 2 years, Paradigm Initiative folded the campaign into our LIFE program to enrich the student experience and focus our impact on students who are able to get the full 8-week (now 10 weeks) LIFE experience. It’s no surprise that 1 in every 2 LIFE program graduates either got internships, jobs or built businesses around skills learnt this year. Of course, many got a chance to earn enough in order to continue with the tertiary education they always wanted! It only gets better as we roll out the new curriculum in 2017.
The TENT program (which gets a new name, Techtiary, in 2017) grew from just one school to four, with active student-led groups that spent the year adding skills that will help them graduate with more than just CVs! The least they’ll graduate with are market-ready skills in high demand, and who knows, some of them could hire their colleagues to start out even before convocation day. Some of our students who started the program 5 years ago, now in their final year, are using the projects they started in Year 1 as their Final Year Project. We deepen the impact in 2017, as student-led groups come to additional schools across Nigeria.
2016 was very busy for the ICT Policy program — which will be known as Magoyi (Hausa word for advocate) from next year — at Paradigm Initiative no thanks to various government policies and actions that threatened citizen’s online rights. We published reports, shared educative information, hosted solution-focused meetings, lobbied at the National Assembly, discussed “complex” issues with relevant agencies and went to court when amber turned red on some of the issues. Considering the similar nature of threats to Digital Rights across Africa during the year — and with the new trend of Internet/application shutdowns and repressive laws/policies — we launched our first Digital Rights in Africa report at the recently concluded Internet Governance Forum. And for the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, 2016 was a good year. The Bill was introduced on the floor of the House, got first and second reading, and we teamed up with the Committee on Human Rights to make sure the December 5 Public Hearing was public – streamed live and with input from diverse stakeholders.
This year, we welcomed Intel (through the #SheWillConnect program), Facebook, AccessNow, CDI Global (a global network of Digital Inclusion organisations that will help deepen our work in Nigeria and expand into Africa), Global Network Initiative (through an Internews Fellowship) and Ford Foundation (with multi-year support to expand our Digital Rights work beyond Nigeria) as Paradigm Initiative partners, to strengthen our existing stakeholder ecosystem. Hajia Jummai Umar-Ajijola, PhD, a seasoned expert with experience across business and civil society, also agreed to join the Paradigm Initiative Advisory Board!
I’m sure you saw what I did throughout this message, with Nigeria missing from our name. It’s not a typo, and we’re not leaving Nigeria 🙂 From January 3, 2017, Paradigm Initiative’s focus as a social enterprise will be pan-African. Our Digital Rights work is taking us into new regions on the continent, and we’ll tell you more about that at the Internet Freedom Forum holding April 25-27 in Lagos. If you are yet to register, please head to www.pinigeria.org/iff and register immediately. You’ve also probably noticed that our social media handles changed to @ParadigmHQ. It’s all part of the process that has now started and will culminate in a reintroduction of your favourite Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion social enterprise in April 2017.
As we did just before 2016, and do each year, the team met last week to plan each day of 2017 and we’re now in holiday mode. As we prepare to hit the ground running on January 3, 2017, I want to say a huge thank you for everything you did to help us inch closer to every plan we had for 2016. We have more than 2,016 reasons to be grateful. Thank you for your continued support, and we sure look forward to an exciting 2017!
I wish you, your family and loved ones a happy holiday and an amazing 2017 ahead. A sha hutu lafiya! Ézūmíké óbī ụ́tọ́. E kú odún!