Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) at Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. Our digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls.  

Our digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Lome, Togo (Francophone West Africa); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). Our policy advocacy efforts include media campaigns, coalition building, strategic litigation, capacity building, research, report-writing and hosting the annual, bilingual, Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum where more than 200 digital rights stakeholders from over 35 countries (mostly African countries) meet to discuss, network and advance work in digital rights.

Paradigm Initiative has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organizational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent. We have a robust partnership network made up of non-profit organizations, youth groups, local businesses, international organizations and government agencies who provide opportunities to the communities we work with. The organization has organized the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forums in Nigeria since 2013, with an average of 200 participants participating each year and over 30 African countries represented.  Paradigm Initiative also championed the drafting, advocacy for and eventual passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill Nigeria by the House of Representatives and the Senate in Nigeria. The organization has strong competencies in advocacy, media and communications, capacity building, research and coalition building. It has organized Internet Policy Trainings/Digital Rights Workshops in Cameroon, Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia.

Program Background

There are both enormous challenges and opportunities for realizing the ambitious task of creating an inclusive, healthy, safe and open Internet in the coming decade for all Africans, including marginalized and vulnerable populations such as women and girls, people with lower income levels or living in rural communities, sexual minorities, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Connecting the next billion who mostly live on the African continent requires not only technological and commercial innovations, but also new models of collaboration among all stakeholders.

Paradigm Initiative will host a Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) from February 2020, at its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. DRILL has a mission to host innovative learning around digital rights and inclusion in Africa, and serve as a space for both practice and reflection, aimed to involve and connect different stakeholders and create dialogue amongst researchers, social innovators, policymakers and actors, the private sector, as well as civil society.

As a lighthouse for digital rights and inclusion advocacy in Africa, learning activities will take place at the lab in order to evolve new thinking on digital rights and inclusion strategy for Africa. There are a variety of activities that will take place, including but not limited to, focused future-facing research; presentations; ecosystem meetings and discussions focused on digital rights and/or inclusion hosted within the ecosystem; and general communication about the lab’s activities.

DRILL will offer a space for big thinking, evaluation of digital rights and digital inclusion programs, and future-proofing ecosystem activities. DRILL will host innovators, researchers and/or entrepreneurs-in-residence at the PIN HQ so they can host biweekly ecosystem/sector meetings (to share insight/ideas), biweekly presentations (to share outcomes of their research and/work) and work with the Executive Director to record a monthly DRILL podcast on topical issues.

Call for DRILL Fellows

Paradigm Initiative is opening calls for a pioneer fellow of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab to work at the Paradigm Initiative headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, from February 2020 for a 3- or 6-months period. The fellowship is for a period of three months at a time, but can be renewed for another three months on completion, depending on planned activities and joint review between the Fellow and PIN. As a mid-career fellowship, potential candidates will be expected to have had a minimum of 5 years’ experience as technology or social innovators, researchers, policy experts, and/or entrepreneurs.

Fellows’ Responsibilities 

Applicants will be required to briefly discuss their intended focus for the fellowship period during the application process. Paradigm Initiative will expect to receive a two-page project plan from shortlisted candidates. For the successful candidate, this would be discussed and agreed on with the PIN leadership team, no later than two weeks after the fellowship start date. The successful fellow will commit a minimum of 16 hours per week to the fellowship, working from the PIN HQ in Lagos.

  • The fellow will be expected to host biweekly ecosystem/sector meetings at the PIN HQ (to share insight/ideas), biweekly presentations (to share outcomes of their research and/work) and a monthly DRILL podcast to be recorded with the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative
  • The Fellow will host a side session on a topical and relevant digital rights and/or inclusion theme, in the specific area of their interest, at the annual Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • The last month of the fellowship will feature a final meeting, a final presentation and the final podcast from the selected fellow. There will be an exit interview and opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved in the 3- to 6-month period with PIN’s leadership team

The fellowship is open to potential fellows living outside Lagos, where Paradigm Initiative’s headquarters, the home of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab, in located. However, there are no relocation allowances or travel support costs provided for the inaugural fellowship.

PIN Responsibilities

For the inaugural fellowship, Paradigm Initiative will not provide remuneration to the selected fellow. However, Paradigm Initiative will support selected individuals with recommendation letters or such as may be required towards possible fundraising, as long as income is declared and a public report will be published at the end of their project. PIN will cover costs associated with learning activities at the Digital Rights and Inclusion Lab and provide office space, an opportunity to be embedded within our team, access to the ecosystem and feedback on projects throughout the duration of the fellowship. 

Application and Timeline

This call for applications is open until December 20, 2019. The selection process will commence in January 2020 with the first fellow of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Lab expected to resume in February 2020. Selection will be supported by an External Advisory Group made up of ecosystem leaders, including Alberto J. Cerda Silva (Ford Foundation), Anriette Esterhuysen (Association for Progressive Communications), John Dada (Fantsuam Foundation), Nnenna Nwakanma (World Wide Web Foundation), and Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi (Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre), who will help shape the program and work with the PIN team to review Fellowship applications.

Please use the application form at https://bit.ly/drillfellow by midnight (GMT+1) on December 20, 2019. You will need the following in order to submit your application:

  • Your resume (not more than 3 pages)
  • Your cover letter detailing your interest in the DRILL fellowship (not more than 500 words)
  • A brief indication of tentative focus of your fellowship (not more than 500 words)